Glide time for US leukaemia patient

Gavin Shamis, from South Burlington, in Canada, takes control of a glider at 20,000ft, near Mt...
Gavin Shamis, from South Burlington, in Canada, takes control of a glider at 20,000ft, near Mt Cook on Friday. Photo supplied.
Omarama has long been renowned as one of the world's best places for gliding and soaring, and when an 11-year-old leukaemia patient from the United States was offered a dream holiday through the Make a Wish Foundation, a trip to the tiny North Otago township was his first choice.

Make a Wish operates in 50 countries and grants the wishes of children dealing with life-threatening medical conditions, so when Gavin Shamis, from South Burlington, Vermont, became sick his parents contacted Make a Wish, to tell them of Gavin's wish to glide in Omarama.

His wish was granted yesterday, during a family holiday to New Zealand.

Gavin, who found out about gliding at Omarama through the internet, said he had been ''very excited'' about his trip to Omarama, and intended to join a gliding club in Vermont as soon as he got home.

''This wish is so many things that I've missed out on since becoming sick. It's not even been possible to go to school. I always know that travelling to a far off amazing place and to do something you could only do there would be my wish.

''But I didn't know where and what it would be until I learnt about soaring in Omarama, New Zealand.''

Glide Omarama managing director Gavin Wills said the pair got up to about 20,000ft during a three-hour flight on Friday, and returned to the sky on Saturday.

''He flew the glider on both flights with more than hour on the controls. On the first day I demonstrated some extreme glider handling including a loop-the-loop. He loved it.

''He's absolutely stoked. He couldn't wait to get back up, and he did quite a lot of the flying on Friday. He's an absolutely delightful young chap. He just had a big smile on his face.

''He was just bouncing when he stepped out of the glider. He certainly had a spring in his step.''

Add a Comment