Chad and I kept in contact about all his amazing plans for the run. During that time Copperstate Fourwheelers had several meetings that I planned on attending to talk about Ryder, but it never worked out. Ryder spent over a month in the hospital and Les or I were with him around the clock. He then came home for a day or two (on two different occasions) before being readmitted to the hospital.
Our original plan for the money earned from Ryder’s Run was to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle. I was having a lot of issues with my back from picking up Ry and putting him into his car seat and getting him out again. He had a wheelchair (which was too heavy for me alone) so this vehicle was going to be a blessing to our daily lives and my back :). My sister and I researched vehicles and lift options. On July 25th however, our plans derailed after the first 911 call and ICU stay due to unrelenting seizures. Within a few weeks, it became more and more apparent that Ryder wouldn't be with us here on Earth much longer. The focus of the money shifted to paying for medical bills, end of life care and a glorious celebration of life.
Chad and Jennifer were always flexible with our crazy schedule and checked in on us often. While Chad was busy arranging the trail, designing stickers and fliers, finding sponsors, setting up a bank account in Ryder’s name and other countless duties I’m sure I wasn't aware of, his wife Jennifer was arranging for the silent auction and preparing baskets of the many donations coming in! (I know her mother was a huge help as well and am sure I left out so much that they did to get ready for this event!)
In the meantime, many friends were contacting my sister and me about wanting to participate, but they didn't have vehicles appropriate for the trail ride. Super Auntie jumped right in as always and began plans for a trail hike to accommodate those that wanted to join us. Jen also was a big part of spreading the word, collecting silent auction donations and updating Ryder’s blog.
While these awesome friends and family busied themselves with all the mundane details of this event, Ryder’s health deteriorated quickly, much more quickly than anyone imagined in fact. On August 22, 2012, at 9:07a.m., Ryder gained his angel wings.
While the devastation of Ryder’s loss, not only for our family, but the many, many lives he influenced set in, the plans for Ryder’s Run continued (I believe even in fuller force). Donations for the silent auction poured in and people we didn't know began reaching out to us and showing their support.
Jen (my sister) had memorial fliers printed, made a video montage, planned Ryder’s Celebration of Life and continued planning the hike portion of Ryder’s run, all while grieving the loss of her nephew and comforting our mom and me (a walking basket case at the time- and even still am sometimes to this day). I want to stop and give a shout out to Mike, Jen’s boyfriend, whom probably received many, many stress calls from Jen! Thanks for supporting and loving my sister!
Other friends jumped in to raise money as well.
Brianne (an 8yr old-now 9) inspired a benefit yard sale (raising over $700).
My friend Randee sparked the interest of her Zumba instructor, Lisa Kaleta, to host a zumba fundraising class and balloon release in Ryder’s memory with Spectrum Fitness and Wellness Center matching donations (raised $2000)
The Arizona Virtual Jeep Club sponsored a night at Native New Yorker where 10% of food profit when toward Ryder’s fund (raised over $300), my friend Regina hosted an Ava Rose Design party at her house--check out their website www.avarosedesigns.com (raised $128), Wooly Babes - Waldorf Dolls for a Cause (check them out on FB) held an on-line auction (raised $70) and my friends Sammy, Tanya and Tyra made bracelets and sold them to help out!
Gosh, I hope I’m not forgetting anyone!!! I am still in awe of our wonderful, caring and supportive friends and family that have been so gracious and supportive.
September 29th was go day! All the hard work and planning on Chad’s part came together beautifully and even better than he planned (as he told me later). Dozens of people first met up at Desert Rat in Tempe to watch the slide show and participate in the silent auction and raffles. Chad presented a beautiful plaque to Les and I that we will cherish forever!
It was then time to be on our way. Groups separated to head for the hike lead by my sister or the trail run lead by Chad.
Les, Noah, Cody (my nephew) and I drove in our truck to Montana Mountain. It was my first off-road adventure! When we got to the meeting site, I was overwhelmed (again) with the dozens of vehicles awaiting us that weren't able to come to Desert Rat. When the vehicles started along the trail in formation, I sat back and enjoyed the ride (on Dramamine since I get motion sickness!) It was just over a month after Ryder had passed away. I saw signs of him everywhere and I was taken aback by the beauty of nature and the people that were there in the moment, during that day for my little angel with the hugest spirit whom touched so many lives. Part way up the trail we all stopped and took in the scenery. While outside the truck, I could hear my friend, Wendy, laughing! I walked down the row of vehicles until I found her. She was excited to show me the back of her vehicle. As I walked around and saw the huge banner with Ryder’s name on it (designed by her daughter Tanya) I was amazed!
It really is an indescribable feeling knowing I have people who care deeply for my family and go out of their way to show us they care! Later in the day people signed the banner and it was given to me days later- another memory to hold dear forever! As we continued on the trail I saw beautiful butterflies galore and a heart shaped cloud that just shouted to my heart of Ryder’s vibrant presence. ( I don't know why I can never turn pics around when I want to!)
Eventually this same heart shaped cloud grew wings and flew away....... (Do you ever look for signs or pictures in the sky? I've done this since I was little :)
Ahead of us, I saw some of Ryder’s sticker’s on the vehicles. (How cool would it be to see one as I drive down the road someday?!) Looking through the mirror, I saw vehicle after vehicle and knew the line went beyond my vision. We were about 1/4th of the way in the line of vehicles; I wonder how many were actually there? We stopped again and had lunch together. It was neat walking around and meeting so many new people. We heard stories of people participating after hearing about Ryder’s run at a bar and someone else saw a flier hanging at Bank of America! I chuckled to myself listening to an innocent conversation between a 6 and 8 year old in the back of our truck (talking about girls and never wanting to make babies—I’m sure they had no clue of what they were saying or what it meant lol)
It was an amazing experience and a memorable day. Chad mentioned maybe doing an annual Ryder’s Run to support the cause—AWESOME!
After it was said and done, Ryder’s Run raised a little over $10,000! Yes, that’s what I wrote--$10,000!!!! So very amazing and helpful. We will be using the money for medical bills, pieces of remembrance jewelry (I already designed & bought mine)
and starting over…We are also on our way to building our new path in life and will soon be able to give even more to those in need.
THANK YOU CHAD, JENNIFER & COPPERSTATE FOURWHEELERS FOR BEING YOU AND MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On a last side note, I mentioned in a previous post about writing a Jekl/ Hyde post. Anger is part of grief unfortunately. Most of the time it’s irrational. It’s just feeling through the pain while attempting to misplace it instead of dealing with it- (its common—and I realize I feel this way at times). It changes daily so no reason to mention specifics other than—I do get angry at my situation sporadically because it just plain sucks that’s why. I don’t want to use this blog in anger. Ryder wouldn't like that either & I don’t want to see what signs he’d send to me:0) Sorry to those I've offended. Please take my words with a grain of salt knowing I love you and I NEED to figure out my path from here by myself…no advice needed or wanted. This by no means is intended to be rude or make you walk on egg shells with me. PLEASE speak to me about Ryder and don’t think it would upset me! I NEED to talk about him. I have also lashed out to undeserving loved ones—I’m sorry again. Hoping this stage of grief passes someday soon…..
“If you’re going through hell just keep going before the devil even knows your there…..”