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Queenstown Biz Helps Bucket List Dreams Come True

Queenstown businesses help ‘bucket list’ dreams come true

A recent ‘bucket list’ adventure holiday has provided a terminally ill Auckland woman with memories she hopes will sustain her family through the final stages of her disease.

Several Queenstown businesses collaborated to make the holiday happen for 29-year-old Lisa Knapman-Smith, her husband, daughter and one-year-old son.

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Inspired by the concept of the recent Jack Nicholson movie The Bucket List, Lisa’s friend Debbie Blincoe, initially made contact with JAG AIR pilot Adam Butcher to ask if he would consider taking Lisa on a stunt ride as part of her ‘bucket list’. Adam was so touched by Lisa’s story he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

“Lisa is suffering with terminal breast cancer and has had a terrible time over the last three years. She’s had to endure more pain than anyone should ever have to. She’s lost two children prematurely, had a battle on her hands with the premature birth of her latest child, and during all of that found out she had cancer which is now incurable,” he said.

Adam got hold of Lisa’s wish list and quietly hatched a “cunning plan” to rally other local operators to give Lisa and her family some wonderful memories of Queenstown.

JAG AIR was joined by NZONE Skydiving, Sunrise Balloons, Shotover Canyon Swing, Kawarau Jet, Paraflights, and The Helicopter Line in donating activities to the cause. Central Ridge Boutique Hotel donated accommodation, Juicy Rentals a car and Air New Zealand supplied the flights in order to provide a complete holiday for Lisa and her family.

An excerpt from Debbie’s email pays testimony to Lisa’s strength of spirit:

In 2005 at the end of August Lisa gave birth at 31 weeks to a wonderful little girl Eden who unfortunately was only with us for just under a day...This really hit Lisa and her family hard...In 2006 in May she gave birth again to another wonderful girl called Laine at just over 25 weeks! Laine was with us after lots of complications and hard work for nearly 6 months when she passed away....Then in September last year and just under 25 weeks pregnant Lisa was put into hospital because her wonderful little boy wanted to do what his sisters did and come early...Cort was born just under 25 weeks and yesterday was his first birthday!

While Cort was fighting for his life in NICU, Lisa received the word that no one ever wants to hear that she had breast cancer...This woman is the most inspiring and amazing woman ever! She had a mastectomy in November and in January this year started Chemo...When Lisa started to lose her hair I shaved my head at the same time she did and we were the 2 bald women! After Chemo she has gone through Radiation and then after follow up tests we were waiting for them to say that things were going well but then we learned after scans etc. that it was now into her Lymph System.

Originally I met Lisa through the Treasures Parenting Forum and OMG she has the biggest support and cheer squad ever there. Reading something she wrote the other day was that there was no way she was going to let this beat her yet as she was so busy and had so much to do! No matter what, she is always there for her family and friends - onwards and upwards as she says. When I am having a bad day I think of her and her amazing strength and courage!

Lisa’s blog after her Queenstown adventure reads:

“…with everything we did over the weekend surely you could pick a thing or two. But to me there was one thing that stood out the most. There was one thing that really made my weekend... THE PEOPLE.

“Namely Adam, Mike, Rachael and Gill and all the other wonderful operators who came to the party to make this the weekend of a lifetime.

“You are all so wonderful and as you know by the tears shed at the airport and most the way home and on landing back here and a few times (sop I know) but you guys have made a huge difference in my life and I really do hope to see you all again in the not too distant future because in a few days you became like family.”

To read more about Lisa’s Queenstown experience and her fight for life visit


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