16-year-old entrepreneur Oliver Lodewyk got more than he bargained for as a nominee of HELL Pizza’s Satan’s Little Helper scheme – first-hand business advice from the mayor himself.
Oliver is the youngest of only four people in New Zealand afflicted with an extremely rare genetic disorder called Morquio Syndrome – a disease that has left him paralysed from the neck down, confined to a wheelchair and severely impacted in his ability to lead a normal life.
Undeterred, Oliver runs his own candy floss business out of his family’s home in Gisborne and ships his wares all over the country.
The challenges he has faced throughout his life, combined with his determination and ‘can do’ attitude, make him a perfect candidate for support from Satan’s Little Helper (SLH). The scheme was set up by HELL in 2013 to give a helping hand to Kiwi youths going through a tough time and has provided assistance and life-affirming experiences for hundreds of nominees.
After Oliver’s mum, Rachel, nominated her son and told his story to SLH, the team at HELL were keen to help.
“Stories like Oliver’s are exactly why we set up Satan’s Little Helper in the first place,” said HELL general manager Ben Cumming. “Our goal is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of disadvantaged Kiwi youths who deserve a break.
“Rachel asked us for some help with business coaching to help develop and encourage Oliver’s entrepreneurial spirit. That’s exactly the form of assistance we look to give nominees, and we immediately identified Oliver as a worthy candidate.”
In its search for a business coach in the Gisborne area, HELL was directed to the mayor’s office.
“Mayor Foon responded very positively to our enquiry,” said Ben. “He is an experienced and successful businessman, with a strong commitment to his local community. It’s great to have him on board.”
“When I nominated Oliver to Satan’s Little Helper asking for help with business coaching, I wasn’t expecting that to be with the mayor!” said Rachel. “Oliver and I are both very excited and slightly overwhelmed.
“It’s awesome to see him growing in confidence through being involved with the candy floss business, and ultimately engaging with the community. It can be very difficult for someone with a disability like his to feel involved, so I hope his story helps to encourage others in a similar situation to break those social barriers.
“Oliver would love to use his story as a platform to help others.”