Michael Cuckow’s three sisters each have specific needs –– Ayvah is diabetic, Mia has ADHD and Arlah has a speech delay – but he doesn’t feel lucky to have avoided the complications that make their lives different; Instead, he wishes he could receive the attention they get.
Michael himself has his own struggles. He recently lost his nanna and had a fantastic experience in the Big Brother, Big Sister scheme taken away from him. "He spent a lot of time with his nanna, especially in the school holidays. It gave him some respite from our crazy house, which he hasn't had since she passed. He also lost his Big Brother, which hurt a lot." That would be a lot for any nine-year-old to process, never mind one that gives so much of his energy to helping his mum. "He's always helping his sisters," says Janice. "If I'm busy with the youngest, he'll help Ayvah regulate her blood sugar, or if he sees that Mya is getting a little hyper, and he'll bring her down. He's amazing."
It's safe to say that Michael is in a family environment full of love, but he perhaps misses one thing...
"He's been telling his friends that he has ADHD when he doesn't," explains his mum Janice. "That absolutely breaks my heart. I really wanted him to feel like the centre of attention for once, which is why I nominated him for Satan's Little Helper."
Michael has been raised around cars and loves them. His uncles race them up in Auckland, so SLH sent him for go-kart laps at Naki Nitro in New Plymouth, followed by a pizza party at his local HELL store.
"He loved it! Michael was almost drifting around the corners by the end, and the people running it said he was a natural."
School isn't the easiest place for Michael, but Janice says he couldn't wait to tell his classmates what happened after he went karting!
"Michael can't stop talking about his day on the track. He's been smiling ever since. He even told his whole class about his amazing weekend, and he never shares in class, which shows how special the day was for him."