Six year old burn victim Dukie proves confidence is more than skin deep
Dukie King looks a bit different to other six-year-olds, but he’s not letting it phase him.
The Hawke’s Bay boy is a finalist in the Junior category in the 2015 Attitude Awards. The national awards celebrate the excellence and achievements of Kiwis with a disability.
When he was just 23-months-old, Dukie climbed into his parents’ car at their home in Mohaka. Within minutes the car burst into flames after Dukie appeared to have been playing with matches.
With 75% of his small body burnt, Dukie spent months in hospital and underwent numerous surgeries. He’ll continue to undergo surgery until he is 18 as his skin has lost its ability to stretch.
“His skin has to be released as he grows, depending on what’s important at the time. Too much surgery at once restricts his movement so it’s done bit by bit,” says his mum Andrea King.
Dukie takes it all his stride and today he’s a typical country boy. He’s into motorbikes, feeds the pigs and loves trucks and diggers.
His goal is to interact and feel comfortable and confident around kids his own age, which is made a whole lot easier by his self-confidence.
“With us introducing him into school and always taking him places with us, he becomes familiar with his surroundings and it builds up his emotional strength,” says Andrea.
Dukie is aware that he looks different and still gets annoyed with people staring at him. He and his mum have come up with some cheeky t-shirts to put off gawkers, printed with slogans like ‘I’m a burns survivor, what’s your excuse?’
“I think we worry about the staring more than he does,” says Andrea. “He’s got his own attitude – he even chats up girls at the supermarket!”
Dukie is supported by his seven siblings, two proud parents and a solid community base.
“Dukie has made us aware of why we love each other, scars and all,” says Andrea.
Dukie and his mum will find out if he’s won at the Attitude Awards black-tie gala on World Disability Day, December 3 at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre. They’re hoping the rest of his family will be able to come too.
“Last time Dukie was in Auckland he was in intensive care so it would be great if he could do all the Auckland things this time with his brothers and sisters,” says Andrea.
There are eight categories in the 2015 Attitude Awards: Courage in Sport, Spirit of Attitude, Making a Difference, Artistic Achievement, Youth, Junior, the Attitude ACC Employer Award and Sport Performer of the Year. The overall winner of the Attitude ACC Supreme Award is selected from the category winners and a People’s Choice winner and Hall of Fame inductee are also announced on the night.
Attitude Awards Trustee Dan Buckingham, a member of the elite national wheelchair rugby team the Wheel Blacks, says: “It’s always an exciting time here at Attitude as we find out who the finalists are and count down to the big night. The Awards reflect what Attitude is all about – sharing stories that prove people with disabilities can overcome adversity and achieve greatness, whether that be big or small.”
“We thank our fantastic family of sponsors who allow us to present the Attitude Awards year on year. Collectively we are changing people’s view of what is achievable when someone lives with a disability.”
Dan encourages everyone to visit AttitudeLive.com in early November to see short films of the finalists and to vote for the person most deserving of the ‘People’s Choice Award’.
The Junior Award is sponsored by Barfoot & Thompson. Peter Thompson, Managing Director, says Barfoot & Thompson is humbled to have the opportunity to be part of the Attitude Awards.
“As a family run business with family values it is an honour for us to again be involved with such an inspiring event. We would like to wish all finalists the very best of luck for the Junior Award. Just remember, in our eyes, you are all winners.”
Other Sponsors supporting the Awards include: ACC, Westpac, Drake Medox, Ministry of Health, IHC Foundation, Air New Zealand, Lion Foundation, Invacare and the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust.
Chief Executive of ACC Scott Pickering says ACC is proud to be principal sponsor of the awards for the eighth year, including sponsorship of the Attitude ACC Employer Award and the Attitude ACC Supreme Award.
“The Attitude Awards shine a light on New Zealand’s unsung heroes. At ACC we’re delighted to support the Awards and to acknowledge New Zealanders who live life to the fullest, achieve their goals and provide role models to our community.”
For tickets to the Attitude Awards gala evening on December 3 contact Sue Wales-Earl at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 09 378 1564.
Watch previous Awards footage at www.AttitudeLive.com