By Craig Borley
Some heavy All Black grunt has got behind this year's Child Cancer Foundation annual appeal _ but as a fashion designer, not a footballer.
Keven Mealamu, the hooker famed for his shattering tackling, designed a T-shirt for the appeal, with a personal touch.
The T-shirt is graced by a monkey, with one ear swollen like his own cauliflowered auricle. Mealamu, who took art at school, said it was a fitting image.
"When kids first see me, they're staring at my ears for a long time. And I call my own kids my cheeky monkeys."
Mealamu was at the Foundation's Family Place in Auckland yesterday, playing with the children and signing their T-shirts.
"You take things for granted. It could easily be one of my children here. You can imagine what the parents are going through. So anything you can do to put a smile on the kids' faces is worthwhile," he said.
CCF marketing manager Olivia Blaylock said Mealamu's input was amazing.
"We need $7 million a year to run, and we don't receive any government funding. So any help these people can give us is incredible."And it's great for the kids to see him, and hang out with him."
Rochelle and Brent Miller, whose 7-year-old daughter Briar is undergoing chemotherapy for her leukemia, said the presence of Mealamu was appreciated.
The Foundation was a lifeline for families hit by their children's diagnosis and it was "nice to see [Mealamu] take the time to care", Mrs Miller said.