Family asks community to help son

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 09:03 am

Okotokian Tiffany Boyd is raising money to cover the cost to get stem cell therapy for her four-year-old son Ryker in Panama City this year.
Okotokian Tiffany Boyd is raising money to cover the cost to get stem cell therapy for her four-year-old son Ryker in Panama City this year.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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An Okotoks family knows its son may never walk or talk, but it plans to give him a better life with help from the community.

Tiffany Boyd and Jamie Menzies are hosting a mini market in the Foothills Centennial Centre on June 14 to raise money to fly their four-year-old son Ryker to Panama City for stem cell therapy that could improve his motor function, vision and speech.

Ryker developed cerebral palsy due to severe brain damage caused by seizures as an infant. The condition left him unable to sit, stand, walk or talk. He is legally blind, has frequent muscles spasms and will likely never develop beyond his 13-month-old brother Jaxen.

“It will forever affect our lives,” said Boyd.

Boyd spent months searching for ways to help improve her son’s condition and came across the option of stem cell treatment in Panama City. The treatment isn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration in North America. Treatment costs $15,600 and transportation and accommodations another $6,000.

Boyd said the stem cells are injected into the blood stream intravenously to restore damaged brain tissue. The result is often improved vision, looser muscles and better balance, she said. Boyd said she was told patients have an 85 per cent chance of improving.

Boyd said she’s excited by the possibilities for her son.

“Just being able to give him any bit more of independence would be huge, even for the pain factor,” she said. “A lot of kids with cerebral palsy, because their muscles are so tight, are in constant pain.”

Boyd and Menzies can’t afford the treatment on their own and hope for a little help from Okotoks.

In addition to accepting donations for Ryker online at www.gofundme.com, Boyd hopes to raise $5,000 at the mini market to help supplement the costs.

“I though it would be something that people would want to participate in and do the local community thing,” she said, adding 20 tables have already been spoken for. Tables cost $30 and can be used for garage sale-type items, she said.

Money will also be raised through the $2 admission and food vendor, she said.

There will be a raffle table and entertainment.

Boyd’s brother Dylan, who plays in the Bisons’ Junior B Heritage Junior Hockey League, said Ryker loves watching hockey and he would love to have his nephew watch his hockey games at the rink, but knows that’s not possible at his current state.

“It’s not easy just to pack up and go,” he said. “Ryker needs a lot of stuff. He needs special chairs and noise can set him off. It’s hard for everyone.”

Dylan said he would like to see Ryker be able to do so much more and the opportunity for him to get better is an exciting prospect.

“I think everyone deserves the best chance at life they can have,” he said. “If you have that opportunity why not try to take advantage of it.”

To book a table at the mini market call Tiffany Boyd at 403-970-7635.


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