JOHN BISSET / Stuff
Gaynor Park’s dying wish in the center to take his family to Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch has come true. Christine Lewis, left, Robert Parkes and Jayden, 15, and Bex Robinson accompany him.
A terminally ill grandmother Timaru whose dying wish was to take her family to the zoo can add penguin-feeding and dolphin-watching to her trip amid a wave of generosity.
Gaynor Parkes and six of his closest friends and family made it to Christchurch early on Friday morning, kicking off what should be an unforgettable Anzac weekend with a free visit to the International Center of the ‘Antarctic.
Orana Wildlife Park will also host the group for free on Saturday and Sunday – allowing Parkes to channel the $ 3,330 her son, Robert, raised via Givealittle for a visit to the open-air zoo by renting a boat to see dolphins in Akaroa on Monday. .
“Everyone has been very nice,” Parkes said.
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“I am grateful for what they are doing for me and I appreciate it very much.”
The 63-year-old woman was diagnosed with cancer after a tumor was found on her lung and spread to her liver, kidneys and other organs more than two years ago. She chose to forgo chemotherapy and radiation therapy because it would have prolonged her life by just a few weeks, while affecting her quality of life.
Earlier this week, Parkes spent three days at Timaru’s hospital on a drip after his cancer spiked calcium levels in his blood.
Parkes was “excited, nervous” about her animal-laden journey, which would mark her first time taking grandchildren K’dynce Hema-Parkes and Jayden Robinson on vacation.
The other participants were Robert and his close family friends Bex Robinson and Don and Christine Lewis.
Bex Robinson said the outpouring of support for Parkes had been “overwhelming.”
A friend living across the road had offered gas coupons; Mike Pero Real Estate and Parkes’ former workplace, the Timaru Top 10 Holiday Park, had contributed $ 500 each; and her son’s workplace, Alliance Smithfield, raised $ 179 through a raffle.
The money raised would pay for the rental of the boat, accommodation, gasoline and a hearty steak for Parkes, with all funds available for a west coast “tiki-tour” the following weekend.
“We are very grateful for your support. It’s a trip of a lifetime, ”said Robinson.
Christine Lewis said she contacted the International Antarctic Center and was “blown away” when they offered the group a free tour.
They appreciated small donations as much as huge ones, with 65 people in total contributing to the Givealittle page.
“We’re all going to mentally grow from that, and we wish we could take other people with us,” Lewis said.
Robinson planned to write down the supportive comments people had left for Parkes and combine them with photos from the trip.
“When Gaynor isn’t as good as she is now, she can have this in front of her to remember the incredible time she spent,” she said.
Orana Wildlife Park spokesperson Nathan Hawke said Parkes’ family would be entitled to a guided tour with a few “special extras that we hope will blow them away” – including a private stream of giraffes, an encounter with Kea and a behind-the-scenes look at a key habitat.
“We are passionate about providing incredible opportunities for people to connect with nature. We create memorable and lasting experiences for visitors, and we are happy to welcome Gaynor and his family.
“We have a set of really cool experiences planned and hope they all have a great time together as a family at the zoo, and that it will meet their wish.”
Hawke said the facility was “extremely grateful” for the support from visitors who helped the families through a difficult time.
“Whenever possible, we have the privilege of helping families like Gaynor visit.”