WATER WORLD: Leukaemia patient Colby Speare was thrilled to spend an early birthday swimming with the sharks at Sea Life Mooloolaba. Head diver Ade Lynch leads Colby around the tank.
WATER WORLD: Leukaemia patient Colby Speare was thrilled to spend an early birthday swimming with the sharks at Sea Life Mooloolaba. Head diver Ade Lynch leads Colby around the tank. Pete Evans

Colby ditches wheelchair for wetsuit in 'best birthday ever'

COLBY Speare's birthday came with a Tsunami this year.

His entry into the teen years was spent in 2.25 million litres of water with sharks and stingrays, including a majestic brown coachwhip ray named Tsunami, at Sea Life Mooloolaba yesterday.

The leukaemia survivor's early 13th birthday celebration was a far cry from the two birthdays he missed while confined to his hospital ward.

The outgoing youngster, who spent 506 consecutive days in hospital fighting acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, well and truly made up for the eighth and ninth birthdays and Christmas he spent in hospital after mum Kim and charity organisation Merlin's Magic Wand threw him a surprise party he will never forget.

Colby arrived at Sea Life yesterday thinking he would spend a day at the aquarium taking in the various exhibits he had seen several times before.

He had no idea he would become the star of the show.

When Merlin's Magic Wand co-ordinator Vicki Brown unveiled the big surprise, that he would be swapping his wheelchair for a wetsuit and snorkelling with the sharks, Colby could not wipe the infectious smile off his face.

"I am a bit concerned the sharks might try to eat me," he said before taking the plunge into the three-metre deep tank.

With the help of Sea Life head diver Ade Lynch, Colby spent a weightless 20 minutes floating along the surface of the tunnel tank.

"It was the best birthday ever," Colby said after the experience.

The breath-taking adventure, which Colby admitted had left him shaking, was followed by a birthday lunch in the Sea Life cafeteria.

Colby's cousins came up from Toowoomba for the occasion and two of his school friends joined in the fun.

Kim said Colby was still in remission and had continued to undergo regular treatment on his bones, which had become extremely thin with a high risk of fractures since his intensive treatment.

Colby now spends 90% of his time in a wheelchair.

Vicki said the Speare family had been given Sea Life vouchers to pass on to other families for free entry as part of the charity organisation's Pay it Forward campaign.


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