Marshall McCash has a few simple pleasures in life: cat Harry lying on his chest; the company of small children; live, but not loud, music; and floating, weightless, in warm water.
Marshall has severe epilepsy and cannot speak, chew, walk, sit up or hold up his head, and although he doesn't have an official diagnosis, his symptoms are similar to cerebral palsy. Everything has to be done for him.
While his mother, Abbie McCash, does everything she can to make Marshall, 16, comfortable and happy, his life is difficult.
One of his greatest joys, however, is being in a pool. Marshall, a gangly teenager who is taller than his mum, is now too big to fit in a bath. To take him to the AC Baths involves getting him and his wheelchair in and out of Abbie's van, changed and into the pool, dressed and back into the van while Abbie also tries to supervise her other children Joe, 5, and Rose, 9 months. It takes two people to lift Marshall. It's just too hard on everyone.
But Marshall suffers a lot of pain from pressure points and from his muscles shortening while he's in his wheelchair.
Abbie has just bought her first house and now she's permanently settled, she'd like to put in a portable spa pool for Marshall to use.
Marshall requires 24-hour care and is often sick, so Abbie, who does almost all the caring (a caregiver comes to lend a hand for two hours a day) finds it difficult to commit to a job, although she has done in-home childcare in the past.
She exists on a supported living allowance and while it's enough to pay the bills, she can't afford the $7000 needed to buy and install a spa pool big enough for Marshall to lie in. She says being in a pool or spa has multiple benefits. It eases Marshall's pain and takes the pressure off his skin and joints.
"He loves the space and the weightlessness, and having his ears in the water helps dampen sound, which he can be sensitive to ...
"He loves floating in the pool. Just somewhere with a little bit of room for him to stretch out and the heat from the pool to help with his [muscle] contractions ... the warmth from the water helps to ease that."
She and her sister, Jess McCash, are selling pine cones and holding sausage sizzles. However, friends suggested a Givealittle page would help her reach her goal quicker.
By 10am yesterday, the Givealittle page had raised $1900.
To donate, go to givealittle.co.nz and search "spa pool for Marshall". Abbie and Jess also need sacks to sell their pine cones in. If you can help, drop them at the Taupo & Turangi Weekender office in Paora Hapi St (above Hunting & Fishing).