experience of a lifetime

About a month ago, my family was surprised with a trip to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, RIC,coordinated and funded by a donor wishing to remain anonymous.  While we completely understand the desire to retain anonymity, we wanted you to know how much we appreciate your wonderful gift, how inspiring it is, and what it has meant to us.

Mr. Walter fitting a test socket

Our Journey began with a phone call from RIC, informing us that an anonymous donor contacted them about getting us out to Chicago and working with Ryder to provide him with a hockey leg.  In a state of disbelief and utter gratitude, we spoke with the incredible team that was set to work with Ryder.  Mr. Walter, Ms. Nicole and the team listened to some of our challenges with Ryder’s current leg and had some ideas to try out with the new leg.  A few short weeks and a few additional conversations later and we were on our way, hockey bag and all!

Ms. Nicole fitting a second test socket

We met Mr. Walter, Ms. Nicole, Ms. Krista and more of the team bright and early on Monday morning.  Walter and Nicole worked on 2 different socket ideas for the hockey leg, wanting to try different suspension systems and positioning.  While the sockets were drying, we met with Krista for a physical therapy evaluation and Dr. Huang, MD for a physical evaluation.  Enough cannot be said about our treatment from this dream team, they treated Ryder like a king, and had patience and reassuring smiles to spare.  By the end of the day on Monday, Nicole and Walter had 2 test sockets ready for Ryder to walk around in, with and without his skates.

Coach Kevin & Ryder

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent on the ice with the test sockets.  Nicole, Walter and Krista endured the freezing cold rink to analyze and adjust the 2 test sockets.  They made on the fly adjustments to the leg, each time making it more comfortable and secure for him.  We skated at the Heartland Ice Arena, and Coach Kevin Delaney took the ice with Ryder as well.  It was such a complete experience, to have Walter and Nicole there to analyze the performance of the leg, to have Krista there to work on strengthening Ryder’s leg and comfort on the ice, and to have Coach Kevin reinforce the love and excitement of hockey.

Ryder's new hockey leg

On Thursday, Ryder was presented with his hockey leg, all done up with his beloved Sabres logo and colors.  It looks like it belongs on the ice… so we had to make it to the ice once more to test it out.  The gang was all there, and a film crew captured the experience.  Just when our smiles could not get any bigger, Ms. Nicole told us that the second test socket was being turned into a swim leg for Ryder.  Needless to say, we were ecstatic… and surprised….and grateful…and awed… as we continue to be.

My family and I would like to say thank you to the extremely generous donors who took an interest in Ryder and provided a once in a lifetime experience for him.  Your generosity and belief in him is appreciated far greater than you know.  We are so grateful for the wonderful gift you have given us, for believing in Ryder, and not dismissing a 3 year old’s dream.  We appreciate not only the tangible aspects of this gift, but the thought and research behind it as well.  You, anonymous donor(s), are a hero.  Thank you a million.

skating with Ms. Krista


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