Friday, June 19, 2009

An autograph to crown 'em all

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By STACEY WOOD - The Dominion Post
Last updated 05:00 20/06/2009

Meads std
ROSS GIBLIN/ The Dominion Post
PEN TO PATE: Sir Colin Meads signs his name on the head of cancer patient Josh Wood, 13, right, and did the same for Josh's brother Jonathan, 10, who has alopecia.

Josh Wood lost his hair to cancer, but his smooth head made the perfect canvas for Sir Colin Meads' autograph.

Meads spent the morning before a charity auction yesterday visiting sick children at Wellington Hospital. At the youngsters' request, he scrawled his signature on the smooth heads of Josh, 13, who has leukaemia, and his brother Jonathan, 10, who is not ill but has alopecia, a condition which causes people to lose their hair.

Meads said it was the first time he had signed a scalp, but for Josh it was not a new experience.

"I went to a camp and everybody signed my head."

Josh has 18 months of treatment to go and will have to travel to Auckland for part of it.

Meads flew by helicopter to the hospital with Liam Todd, 8, who is recovering from a rare, aggressive tumour in his sinus cavity. Liam was a bundle of nerves before the flight but by the end he was grinning from ear to ear.

"He thought it was absolutely marvellous, he wanted to go again," mother Rebecca said.

Liam has a special connection to the rugby legend. "Liam's great-grandfather is Ernie Todd, who was one of my managers many years ago," Meads said.

Before going to the 12th Champions Charity luncheon, he visited a few more young patients and gave tackling tips to a pair playing an All Blacks video game.

Fellow rugby greats Andy Haden, Jamie Joseph, Ian Kirkpatrick, Grant Fox, Walter Little and Michael Jones joined him in raising money for the Child Cancer Foundation.

Among the memorabilia up for auction was a jersey signed by the three "rugby knights" Meads, Sir Wilson Whineray and Sir Brian Lochore.

Foundation fundraising manager Amanda Nicolle said the auction had raised about $60,000 by yesterday afternoon.