A Tauranga teen with a love for the beach may soon be able to get back on the sand for the first time in five years.
A fundraising page has been created for 17-year-old Josh Laforteza, who has cerebral palsy, to raise the $4000 needed for a special wheelchair equipped to get on to the beach.
Josh was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, microcephaly (smallness of the head) and severe developmental delay when he was about four months old.
Emergency department specialist Suzanne Moran, a colleague of Josh's parents, started the Givealittle page a week ago.
"I've known Josh for about two years, I first met him when he was really sick and his parents brought him in.
"But even when he's really sick, he would give you this amazing smile. He just transforms, he goes from looking really, really poorly then he does this smile and it just lights up the whole room and you just can't help but smile back.
"They're a really inspiring family. I'm blown away by the humility and the love they have for one another and I always come away from any interaction with them just feeling very grateful for everything I have and full of admiration for them really," Dr Moran said.
Dr Moran said the idea to fundraise came about because Josh's mother, Kaye Narciso Laforteza, would always ask about holiday beaches.
"She would ask me if the beach had wheelchair access, and they never do and you can see the disappointment on her face. When Josh was little they could take him to a beach because they could carry him, and he loves being on the beach.
"But now Josh is full grown. He's not portable, they can't carry him so they rely on the wheelchair being on the beach."
She saw a beach wheelchair online, and decided to try to fundraise for one for Josh.
"I thought, 'wouldn't it be great if we could get Josh one of those?', and I thought, 'why can't we?'"
Mrs Narciso Laforteza said Josh had not been able to visit the beach for the last five years, despite his love for the ocean.
"He loves the water, he loves the beach particularly. The sand, the wind," she said,
She said Dr Moran had remembered a conversation a long time ago about Josh's love for the beach.
"I was telling her how I wish we could take Josh to the Mount again. It's just heart breaking for us to stop bringing him, especially when you are living in this area.
"I don't even drive past the Mount anymore. He'll look at at the water, then rock his wheelchair because he knows he's near the beach," Mrs Narciso Laforteza said.
She said it would add another aspect to Josh's life.
"He's such a social boy, so friendly, he really likes being around people."
Dr Moran hoped the beach wheelchair would give the family a summer they had not had in a long time.
"Look where we live, we're surrounded by beaches," she said.
She said it was a good way they could give back.
"Winter is a really tough time for E.D. It'd be nice to do something that generates some positivity, the feel-good factor and give us a positive focus as we go through what is usually quite a dark, difficult time for E.D."
As at 3pm yesterday Josh's Givealittle page had $729.
* To donate, go to: www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/getjoshtothebeach