People often ask why is there Star wars Lego on display on our top floor.

Our long term association with Starship began 24 February in 1998, on day two of our eldest child Johnathan’s life when he was diagnosed with a bowel disease and transferred to Starship. The following four months were spent in hospital, as he underwent multiple operations and medical procedures.

This was our introduction to parenting!

Those early days were hard. We lost contact with a lot of our friends and as a married couple we hardly saw each other as one or the other was with Johnathan. The staff at Starship were always amazing. The surgeons were always visiting and checking on us and other patients, even on their days off. The nurses became friends, particularly for my wife. When we were discharged many visited us at home and looked after Johnathan so we could have a date.
Even in the years that followed we had regular long periods where we stayed in Starship. Everyone, in every department always remembered Johnathan.

Our Lego collection started with one small model – a therapeutic activity to help pass the long hours in hospital. That was followed by a large competition prize of Star Wars products, and so the family collection began. Countless hospital visits and recuperation periods have been spent Lego making. It is a great stress relief for our family – especially father and son. As parents we are so grateful for the Starship surgical teams’ innovative, life-saving surgery and their continued research into our child’s specific condition. We also acknowledge the work of the nurses and related support staff, who work together as a team to improve the quality of Johnathan’s life.

In 2005 I wanted to say thank you to Starship.

The latest Star Wars movie was due out in a few weeks and I thought it would be a great idea to show some of my collection as a fundraiser. My initial thought was to show it for a few days at the end of the year and try and time it for the video release. While I was making inquiries to do this I was approached by a local art gallery who had had a show cancel. They liked my idea, had a venue, and were ready to supply security and cover all the expenses of a display. There was one catch – I had to display it in five weeks.
At first I thought I could not pull it off as I had nothing made. I decided to give it a go. Many late nights and a few friends’ help, I got all the models made and we were even able to create several scenes from the movies. Before I knew it TV3 were involved, Play Station and even the movie distributors. Andrew Young, Chief Executive of the Starship Foundation at the time, came down and opened and that year we raised a little over $5,000 through gold coin donations. Sadly, we ended up back in Starship within hours of the opening. From our perspective the biggest thing we achieved was raising the public’s awareness of the special people who work at Starship, who often give so much above and beyond the call of duty. After that I decided to do small displays around Auckland – at school galas and Model Expo. I never charged and always had a donation box for Starship.

In 2008 I built my own rock climbing gym.

A couple of years later I was approached by a young woman who had to do a fundraiser as part of her service to the community. She knew I supported Starship and suggested a climb-athon where she would ask to be sponsored ‘per climb’ and she would attempt 100 climbs. We organised the whole thing in a few days and a couple other kids, mine included, decided to join her, raising just over $700. We have held the climb-athon every year since and with up to 20 kids involved.

In 2016 I decided to show all my Star Wars Lego again

It had nearly doubled in size since the first show. We dedicated the entire top floor of my climbing gym to it. Entry was a gold coin donation. We raised just over $4000 and Seven Sharp ran a story on it this time.

Over the years, through the Lego and the climb-athon, we have been able to give over $20,000 back to Starship.
Today Johnathan is 19. He has beaten the odds. He still has visits to hospital, but none of the long stays as in the early years. He has finished a level 5 computing qualification and like most teenagers is not really sure where to from here. He loves to help people and is amazing with little kids, especially those with medical issues. He still helps me with the Lego and loves computer games. He would like to become a police officer in the future. The thing that stands out for me is that he has a future, something that when we first went to Starship didn’t look possible.

Today there are always Star Wars Lego models on display on the top floor, for people to look at. And there is a donation box on the counter by the front door for Starship Hospital.

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