Boy getting a chance for a better life

Okotoks: Town comes together to pay for four-year-old’s stem cell treatment

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 08:28 am

Tiffany Boyd gives son Ryker a kiss. Boyd is organizing a mini-market on June 14 to raise money for stem cell therapy for her son, who has severe cerebral palsy.
Tiffany Boyd gives son Ryker a kiss. Boyd is organizing a mini-market on June 14 to raise money for stem cell therapy for her son, who has severe cerebral palsy.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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An Okotoks boy may not understand his community is helping to give him a better life this weekend, but there is a good chance he will be smiling anyway.

At four years old, Ryker Menzies communicates through a series of sounds, suffers from frequent muscle spasms, is in a wheelchair because he’s unable to walk or sit on his own and is constantly on painkillers.

This has been Ryker’s reality since infancy due to a severe case of cerebral palsy, and his parents Tiffany Boyd and Jamie Menzies are hopeful stem cell therapy treatment in Panama City will improve his muscle movement, vision and speech.

Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to afford the procedure living on one income while Boyd cares for Ryker.

To help pay for the $15,600 treatment, the couple is organizing a mini-market at the Foothills Centennial Centre on June 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and inviting the community to check out an abundance of second-hand items and products from home-based and privately-owned businesses for an entry fee of $2.

Money will also be raised through a food vendor, numerous raffle tickets for prizes including vacations and toys, and items donated by residents. Okotoks singer Emily Gryba will perform at the event.

“I’ve been getting a lot of calls from people donating stuff to the market to sell there, as well as a few online donations,” said Boyd. “We will just set up about five tables and have family run them. The proceeds will go to Ryker.”

Boyd said she is ecstatic at the amount of community support for Ryker’s stem cell treatment. An online fund she established called Raise for Rykstar collected $1,300, with another $2,000 donated by family, friends and community members.

“The feedback has been fantastic,” she said. “We’re already at $3,500.”

As the family gets closer to reaching their financial goal, Boyd is eager to book an appointment to give Ryker the best life possible. She said she was told they will have an appointment within a month or two of making the call.

Boyd said the stem cell procedure is unobtrusive, saying it’s simply injecting stem cells into Ryker’s blood stream intravenously to restore damaged brain issue.

Boyd said the procedure often results in improved vision, looser muscles and better balance.

Although the chances of improvement are 85 per cent, she understands it’s not guaranteed.

“Our hope is that the major things would be decrease in tone for pain level and comfort and proper bone growth,” he said. “The less tone, the bones have a better chance to grow straight and it can help prevent surgery.”

Ryker is legally blind and Boyd said even an improvement in his vision would be a huge benefit.

Ryker has physiotherapy five days a week to help improve his motor skills, straighten his spine and help him communicate his needs and wants using eye movements.

Boyd said even this is making a difference and her son is almost always smiling, but the stem cell therapy could do so much more.

“Even if the changes are small it could affect all different aspects of his life,” she said.

“Any help or any benefits he has also benefits us being able to incorporate him in the family and taking him to certain events and things of that nature.”

To make a donation to help pay for Ryker’s stem cell therapy go to at www.gofundme.com

An account is set up at the Okotoks Bottle Depot, and donors will be entered into a draw for a manicure and pedicure.

To book a table at this weekend’s mini-market call 403-970-7635.


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