A Whakatāne man diagnosed with stomach cancer has been "lifted" by messages of love and support that have flooded in from around the world.
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Included in the outpouring of love for Boydy Wikeepa, is the honour of having a rugby trophy named after him by the American rugby club he left New Zealand to play for.
According to good mate Geoff Alley, Wikeepa received the devastating news of a rare and aggressive stomach cancer three weeks ago and is currently in Whakatāne Hospital with his wife and two daughters by his side.
"I visited him in the weekend and he wasn't in such a great space," Alley said. "When I got home, and against the initial protest from family, I started a Givealittle page for Boydy."
The page describes Wikeepa's illness as part of a "long and tragic story that cannot be explained in just a few paragraphs."
Alley said he played rugby and studied with Wikeepa at Palmer College in the United States in the late 1990s.
"We formed a strong friendship between us all including his wife Angie and my wife Kelly. As fellow Kiwis living in the USA at the time we were all very close."
Alley said two years ago his friend returned home to New Zealand to reconnect with family and try and heal his damaged wairua (spirit), leaving his American family behind.
"However, Angie and daughters Skyler and Brooklyn are now staying in an adjacent room from Boydy at Whakatāne Hospital. Hospital staff have gone out of their way to help the family and make things as manageable as possible and, for this, they are extremely thankful.
"However, they have no transport while in New Zealand and are relying heavily on family and friends," Alley said. "They are proud people and will not let on that they are in need of help."
Since the Givealittle page was established, Wikeepa has been buoyed by the support pouring in.
"I video called him yesterday and he was in great spirits. He had a smile on his face and was getting ready to go for a walk through the hospital gardens.
Alley said his friend had been both "blown away and humbled" by the naming on the trophy.
On their Facebook page the Washington State Loggers School Rugby Select Side & Alumni, wrote: "We're not big fans of individual rugby player awards. We've been asked before but instead choosing to encourage humility and appreciation of team and club.
"So when we make a decision to change, it comes with some serious reflection. Beginning with 2020, The Washington Loggers will offer one club-wide award."
The post goes on to say the award will be given to the one All-Around Logger — boy or girl – who exhibits excellence in rugby competitiveness, character and culture and exhibits the highest standards of play, the Corinthian spirit of the game, and; the eternal value of mateship.
The Corinthian spirit, the post said, is to play for the love of the game itself, respecting yourself, the game and your opponent.
"Mateship is deeper than friendship and includes building a sense of shared experience, mutual respect, acceptance of differences and unconditional assistance.
"This All-Around Logger award will be known as 'The Wikeepa Award' in honour of a very dear friend to Pacific Northwest rugby, Boydy Wikeepa.
"Boydy played with distinction for Seattle RFC, with many of the current Loggers coaches. He was selected for the USA Eagles tour of Wales in 1997 and then played for Palmer in the USA Rugby D1 Championships. Even in the most physical competition, Boydy was able to offer a wry smile, or a nod, expressing his enjoyment with the challenge.
"Importantly, Boydy was a local youth coach, seen regularly among Eastside, Liberty and Seattle Viking players, helping guide and positively encourage young players — oftentimes on the opposition – to grow their love with our game.
"We encourage every player to take this opportunity, to be better in every way."
The words come as no surprise to Alley or his former schoolmates. A Whakatāne High School friend said Wikeepa was "all about rugby".
To donate to the Wikeepa family, please go to their givealittle page.