Rugby Legend Richie McCaw landed his helicopter on the playground of Rakaia School on Friday to join the 26th Variety Trillian Bash, and created a minor riot as the kids recognised their idol.
The visit was organised by the Christchurch Airport’s Top Guns Bash team and Christchurch Helicopters, which support Varietys mission to help underpriveleged kids.
Richie helped the 140 people on the Bash charity rally to hand over 100 bicycles to deserving kids nominated by their schools between Methven and Rakaia.
And at Ashburton, he was on hand as the Bash handed over a cheque for $6325 to the Student Learning Support Unit at Ashburton College. It has obtained a 55-inch NeoPanel Touchscreen and angle trolley for its SLSU students, who have a range of intellectual impairments.
The only unit of its kind in New Zealand, it’s been imported from the UK thanks to Variety – the Children’s Charity and a generous subsidy by the Australasian distributor, Waterman Innovations.
Between handovers, Richie was kept busy autographing bikes, hats, flags and T-shirts. Christchurch International Airport chief operating officer Andy Lester said when approached, he was keen to help draw attention to the charity. Many of the schools the Bash passed through had pupils with brain injuries or other disabilities, or had equipment needs, but hadn’t known about the Variety’s mission to help underpriveleged kids – children with physical or financial difficulties.
Bash director Murray O’Donnell said, “The Bash raised about $150,000 this year – with final counting still to be done – and we’d like to hand that out to kids in the areas through which we travelled. We’re hoping the people and the schools we met will encourage families needing help to apply to Variety for the assistance their kids need to be the best they can be.”
The 2016 Variety Trillian Bash concluded Friday night, and the vehicles are now heading home – as far afield as Christchurch and the Tutukaka Coast, New Plymouth and Tauranga.