Today’s blog post is a very special one. It is heart wrenching and incredibly unfair and is no doubt every parent’s worst nightmare. At the same time, it also heart warming and inspirational. And most importantly, it is testament to the unconditional love shared between one family and the support they received from the amazing Ronald McDonald House Charities.
As most of you know, my name’s Joanne. I have attended a Bereavement Support Group for the past 4 months since losing my mum in July last year. (All: ‘Hi Joanne…’) I was obviously sceptical at first. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be an endless discussion about loss and pain, with a prize at the end of each session for whoever had the most miserable week. I’m happy to say it was not like this at all. In fact, it was quite the opposite. It was the meeting place of a brave group of people who had also been dealt a tragic and unfair hand in life. And one of those courageous people I met was Dean. Father to little Ryan who passed away at the age of 21 months from a rare form of leukaemia on his brain.
Not just a coincidence
After a few weeks attending the bereavement group, I learnt much more about this family’s tragic loss of their beautiful boy. Ryan passed away on the same day as my mum – 31st July 2017. It was coincidence of course. But also something that made me sit up and wonder if our paths had crossed for a reason. Dean told me that his family were trying to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities. They provided a much needed place for them to sleep and eat in their Manchester House at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where little Ryan had stayed.
With Dean and his partner Sam’s permission, I am going to share with you their story in today’s blog. About Ryan and what happened to him. About the love for their little boy. About the strength and courage they have shown in the face of adversity. And about how Vintage Twee is going to help them raise £5000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities to ensure they can continue to fund the vital work that they do for families with sick children. A donation of this size will also mean that Dean’s family can achieve their personal goal of having a dedicated plaque with Ryan’s name on it at a bedroom in the Manchester house, enabling them to keep his memory alive.
Please read Dean and Sam’s story below and find out more about their little boy and why Vintage Twee has chosen to support them on their fundraising mission. All photos have bravely been provided by Dean and Sam for this special post. You can click on any one of the images to take you straight to our JustGiving fundraising page.
About Ryan Anderson
Ryan’s mum and dad are Dean and Sam and his older sister is Sophie who is 12 years old. Ryan was a very loving little boy with a beautiful, cheeky smile. He was also strong minded and knew how to get what he wanted! His most favourite things to do were playing with his toy cars and throwing his dummies around the room – or at his family! He absolutely loved Mickey Mouse. Ryan also loved animals, particularly dogs, cats and fish and often stood at the window to look at the birds. Their favourite memory as a family was when they took Ryan to Blackpool and he went swimming for the first time. He was that overwhelmed by the experience he ended up falling asleep in the pool! Another favourite memory of Ryan was when he used to dance to the music played by his toy car, shaking his bum with one hand waving in the air! He was an extremely unique little boy too. When he was first born, he donated his umbilical cord to save someone’s life who had cancer.
One brave family
As a young family, Dean and Sam have been through what’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Their beautiful little boy became very poorly at the age of 18 months old. After daily tests and MRI scans, doctors informed Ryan’s parents that he had a tumour on his brain. Further invasive tests over a traumatic period of 2 months revealed that baby Ryan had a very rare leukaemia on the brain. Despite beginning chemotherapy treatment, he passed away on 31st July 2017 at the age of 21 months old with his parents by his side.
During Ryan’s illness and time in hospital, his family faced additional financial pressures when his mum, Sam, lost her job. They struggled financially and finding the money to eat, as well as nearly losing their home. Ryan’s funeral was partly funded by the Zak Vali Foundation. This is a charity that pays for funeral costs when a child passes away from cancer. Dean and Sam will always be extremely grateful to the Foundation. They enabled them to ensure Ryan had the memorial service that they wanted to give him.
About Ronald McDonald House Charities
Ryan was treated and cared for at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. His family stayed in one of the Houses provided by Ronald McDonald House Charities. There are 14 houses across the UK which provide ‘home away from home’ accommodation to families with a child in hospital. They help alleviate some of the financial and emotional burdens they can face. Each House has en-suite bedrooms with a telephone which links directly to the wards so the hospital can get in touch with them easily.
Families have access to communal kitchens so they can cook proper homemade meals together and maintain some degree of normal family life. They can stay as long as they need – days, weeks, months and even years. In 2017, more than 50% of the 8,000 families the charity supports had to travel over 20 miles to visit their child in hospital. Imagine having to face that every day when you are already physically and emotionally exhausted. Ronald McDonald House Charities gives them a warm and welcoming place to rest their heads and be close to their child during the toughest time in their lives.
Our target and how we hope to achieve it
Ryan’s family want to raise money to help other parents who are faced with living in a hospital to be by their poorly child’s side.
Our target is to raise £5000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities by November 2018. We know everyone has their own important financial commitments. Myself included. So we are going about this in a different way…
The ‘Power of the Pounds’ Campaign
So, we invite you to take part in our ‘Power of the Pounds’ campaign. We want to see if by asking for just a little from a lot of people, we can achieve our target of £5000. £2 is the very minimum donation we can receive on on JustGiving fundraising page – we really don’t expect anything more and would be over the moon if 2,500 people could donate this amount so we can achieve our goal.
We want you to donate and tell us what you would normally spend the value of your donation on. The funnier, the more random – the better. We are looking for as many people as possible to donate just £2 to our campaign for Ryan’s room and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
We need 20 people a day to donate £2 by November 2018 to stay on target. Do-able, right?! And the best posts of what you would normally spend your donation on will feature on Vintage Twee’s blog when our target is smashed..!
How your pounds will help Ronald McDonald House Charities
If we can reach this goal, then we achieve two very important things:
It costs £25.00 to provide one night’s accommodation to a family in a Ronald McDonald House. The money we raise will keep many families in safe and comfortable accommodation for 200 nights, allowing them to rest, sleep and eat right across the corridor from their sick child.
By donating this amount of money to the Charity, a room at the Manchester House where Ryan’s family stayed will be sponsored with a plaque in his name, enabling his family to keep his memory alive.
What your support means to Ryan’s family
Dean, Sam and Sophie have shown exceptional strength, courage and bravery as a family unit during what was the worst time of their lives. As the owner of a small business, I thought I could help to raise the profile of the fundraising campaign and enable this special family to reach their target of £5000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities.
A personal message from Dean, Sam and Sophie
“Your help would mean the world to us as a family. Ryan will not get to have his first day at school or any other special days. But by reaching our target, he can help another family who are going though the same thing as we did. Ryan helped so many people during his short life, without him even knowing it. He helped us get the council house we live in now and he also helped his sister Sophie get a place at the school she wanted to go to after the council found out about his illness.
It was an honour to be his dad, mum and sister and we will always be so proud of Ryan. He will always be a legacy. Your donations will enable the Ronald McDonald House Charities to continue the work they do to help families like ours and keep his memory alive. Thank you so much”.
How to donate to help us help Ryan’s family and many others like them
We would be forever grateful if you can donate even just £2 to our cause and help us reach our target. There’s lots of ways you can do this:
Directly through our secure JustGiving fundraising page: Vintage Twee For Ronald McDonald House Charities
Click on the secure ‘JustGiving Donate’ button on Vintage Twee’s homepage if you’re already shopping with us
Visit and Like our dedicated Facebook page here: Vintage Twee for Ronald McDonald House Charities
Contact me directly! Drop me an email email@example.com to arrange your donation
Don’t forget to leave your comment on the wall of our fundraising page when you donate to tell us what you would have spent the value of your donation, Remember! The most entertaining confessions will be featured on Vintage Twee’s blog at the end of the fundraising!
Social media – #powerofthepounds
Thank you for reading this story and we really hope that we can count on your £2!