Snow wish comes true for young tumour survivor

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A Queenstown holiday has made a world of difference for a plucky eight-year-old cancer survivor. 

Tauranga’s Alea Starr-Smith – who had a life-threatening brain tumour removed a year ago – has always wondered what snow felt like. 

Now she knows. Make-A-Wish New Zealand this past week made it possible for her to touch snow in Queenstown and fly in a plane for the first time. 

Alea fulfilled her dream on Tuesday when she took a ski lesson at The Remark­ables, made a miniature snowman and threw snowballs at her mum Dianne Smith. 

Smith says the week-long holiday – which also included goldpanning, luging and motor rallying on ice – did Alea the world of good. 

“She was very cagey for a while but she’s just come alive and been more adventurous. 

“Alea just kept saying every day, ‘I had the best of time today, mum, I’m so glad that I chose this wish’. 

Smith praises Make-A-Wish, which she’d donated to in the past. 

“It’s nice to know that it actually does wonderful things.” 

Smith says the past year has been an emotional rollercoaster for her family. 

Alea was paralysed down one side for the week after her surgery and still faces 10 years of check-ups to ensure the tumour doesn’t return.