While most children in New Zealand are anticipating days spent at the beach, sunny afternoons in the park, kicking a ball, riding a scooter or otherwise enjoying the freedom of the summer holidays, local boy Samuel Partridge is facing a very different Christmas.
Samuel has Andrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), an inherited condition that was diagnosed in 2006 when he was four years old. He was tested for the condition following the death of his younger brother, Logan, aged two, who died that year.
As the Stratford Press goes to print, Samuel and his family are heading to Starship Children's Health for him to receive a bone marrow transplant after a recent MRI scan showed what the medical team describe as a slow-growing lesion that could, if untreated, interfere with the messages passed between his brain and his body.
Samuel says his biggest concern is going through the chemotherapy that is part of the treatment plan, while his mother, Juliette, says that the minimum of eight weeks that they have been told they can expect to spend in the isolation ward there is going to be potentially boring for him. "He is an active child who enjoys squash and hockey", she says. His grandma, Linda Meehan, says thankfully he is also able to focus on things for a long time and will enjoy playing on his PS3 while confined to bed.
Juliette and Linda will be staying at the Ronald McDonald house, along with Samuel's father, Craig, for the 100 or so days that they will be in Auckland while Samuel recovers from the transplant.
For this Stratford family, Christmas this year will be very different as they put their lives on hold and hope for a successful outcome for Samuel.
The Stratford Press wants to ensure that Samuel and his family are able to enjoy their Christmas this year, and so we are creating "A Stocking for Samuel". We are challenging our advertisers and readers to help - by donating new toys, books and games for Samuel, or popping into our office to make a monetary donation that we can then pass on to the family to help with their living costs while away, as well as keeping Samuel entertained and happy while he regains his health.