EAST PROVIDENCE — Seen by some as heroes of the community for their daily service, members of local law enforcement offered their assistance to a city child in the throes of his own personal heroic struggle.
Bounding around with energy befitting a boy of his age, one would be hard pressed to figure anything is amiss with Michael Ryder. But the three-year-old Riverside resident is in a fight for his life, having been diagnosed recently with leukemia.
Michael and his parents, Jonathan and Lynda, were the guests of honor Friday morning, July 18, at the East Providence Police Station where the family received a generous $5,000 gift from the “Cops for Kids with Cancer” organization and a smaller sum from the EPPD Fraternal Order of Police.
“We’re just very thankful,” Mr. Ryder said of the monetary donations his family received Friday. “Every little bit counts. It’s one less shot or prescription we have to worry about paying for. It’s greatly appreciated.”
Retired Boston Police Superintendent-in-Chief Robert Faherty made the presentation to the Ryders on behalf of “Cops for Kids with Cancer.” Chief Faherty noted the Ryders were the 341st family the organization has assisted since its founding back in 2002.
“We feel the families are the lost people in the cancer world,” Chief Faherty said. “The focus, of course, is on the patient, which it should be, but the families also suffer. We try to do any little bit we can to help.”
“Cops for Kids with Cancer” reaches out to families dealing with childhood cancer in a variety of ways, through hospitals, social workers and other support groups. After finding out about the Ryder’s situation, Chief Faherty contacted Acting East Providence Police Chief Chris Parella. Chief Parella, in turn, sought the approval of Acting City Manager Paul Lemont, who agreed the department and the city should assist.
“It’s such a challenging situation for a family. You have all the doctor bills and the medicine, not to mention the mental heartbreak,” Chief Parella said. “Everyone here in the department feels so strongly about this. You saw it with all of the command staff, the officers, the clerks who took their own time to be here today. When it comes to children, we all want to show our support.”
As for Michael, he is currently in the midst of treatment Phase Five, 30 weeks of chemotherapy. The Ryders only found out about his condition some two weeks after his third birthday on St. Patrick’s Day of this year.
“He looked really white and he wasn’t feeling well so we took him to the pediatrician that day,” Mrs. Ryder explained.
“He’s responding well to the treatments. The shots are horrible. He doesn’t like those, but he’s still a bundle of energy,” Mrs. Ryder added. “He has his days. We all do, but if I’m feeling tired or down I just look at how he’s doing. He’s been incredible. He’s our hero.”