Dear Friend of The Dream Factory,
Today, I would like to share the story of our son Ryder.
Ryder's Dream? A Backyard Firehall Playhouse, of course!
Ryder was born in June of 2012. Like most parents, my husband Chris and I had no idea what the journey of parenthood was all about but we would soon find out that the unexpected could happen at any moment.
We didn’t learn what a warrior Ryder would become until 8 months later, when we were told something no parent ever expects: Ryder had Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
We would spend the next 10 months in-between the hospital and CancerCare. This would come to include special days like Ryder’s first birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. On New Year’s Eve 2013, we were discharged from the hospital and would spend the next nine months living between CancerCare appointments and our “regular” life.
In September of 2014, Chris and I made the decision to buy our dream home in Balmoral, Manitoba. We learned that we were going to have our second child and needed a bigger house. Just a few short weeks after moving we received the devastating news… Ryder had relapsed.
We were told that Ryder’s only hope was a Bone Marrow Transplant. After five weeks of chemotherapy, Ryder re-attained remission and was finally discharged from the hospital on December 22nd, 2014. We spent our first Christmas together in our new home before Ryder’s final round of chemo and full body radiation – in preparation for transplant.
January 21, 2015 is what we call Ryder’s “re-birthday”. It’s the day that he received his transplant, from an unrelated 100% match, through the donor registry.
Chris and I will be forever grateful to the selfless person who gave Ryder the gift of life. The celebrations didn’t stop there, as I was rushed through the tunnels of the Health Sciences Centre to the Woman’s Hospital for the arrival of Ryder’s baby sister Danika, who was born 3 days later.
Our journey as a family of four started on CK5 (pediatric isolation unit). Chris would stay with Ryder, and Danika and I would go home after long days at the hospital. It became our new, strange, normal.
Finally, on March 14th, 2015, we would all be home as a family.
The Dream Factory quickly became a big part of our lives, and the experience has been absolutely amazing. After many conversations with Ryder about what his dream might be, he decided he wanted a fire hall playhouse built in our backyard. This playhouse would complete our home for Ryder - he would have his dream house right next to ours.
This summer, Ryder’s Fire Hall was delivered and it was a day of celebration. As a wonderful surprise, The Dream Factory arranged to have our new friends from the Stonewall Fire Department join us. They brought Ryder his own turn out gear, his own fire truck, and (though Ryder was leery at first) a new friend in Sparky the Fire Dog.
It was a day that we will remember forever, and we will always be grateful to The Dream Factory for putting the biggest smile on our favourite superhero’s face.
Ryder now has somewhere to have adventures, play with his friends, and just be a kid, right in our own backyard. His favourite part of the fire house? The fire pole, of course!
This fall, we also watched Ryder start his first day of Kindergarten. 2017 has been a year of milestones that, at times, we doubted could even happen. It is because of The Dream Factory that families like ours could experience those moments of “normal” throughout the year, ones that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
Thank you for this, and thank you to all of the donors like yourself that have made dreams like Ryder’s come true.