The Run for Life at DC Ranch is a Run for Ryan House

By Jennifer Clark, DC Ranch Volunteer Coordinator

Sunday, March 9 marked the third year DC Ranch has embraced Ryan House as the beneficiary of the 2008 Run for Life at DC Ranch, 5K, 10K and 1-mile family fun run.

DC Ranch has a long history of supporting Ryan House, the Southwest’s first freestanding facility that will provide palliative care for children with life-limiting conditions, and respite and support services for their families, in a home-like setting. In 2006, the DC Ranch philanthropic community group, Heartstrings, chose Ryan House as a beneficiary of the annual Heartstrings Ball and generously donated $25,000. Shortly after, the DC Ranch Parks & Recreation team made Ryan House the beneficiary of their public event, Run for Life at DC Ranch. “We were astounded,” said Nancy Martin, executive director of Ryan House. “Our partnership with DC Ranch has resulted in wonderful things.”

The story of what Ryan House is begins, of course, with who Ryan is. Ryan Cottor was born in April 2001 in London, where his Arizona-born parents, Holly and Jonathan, were living in England with their older son, Ethan, 2, while Jonathan was working for an American corporation.

When Ryan was nine months old, his parents were devastated to learn that their son had been born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which prevents the normal structural development of a child’s body. As the child grows, the body essentially collapses into itself and vital organs, particularly the lungs, do not function properly. Doctors predicted that Ryan would not live to celebrate his second birthday.

A world away from family, someone suggested to the Cottors that a facility called “Helen House” located in nearby Oxford could provide respite care for Ryan while they were able to get some desperately-needed rest.

When Ryan was 18 months old, his parents moved back to Phoenix, only to discover that a place like Helen House did not exist in Phoenix, much less the entire U.S. So Holly and Jonathan, along with their friends and family, began exploring the possibility of founding a “Ryan House” in Phoenix.

“Ryan House is at the leading edge of something that, in 20 years, will be mainstreamed,” said Martin. “Most people have not interfaced with a concept such as Ryan House, but once it is explained to them, they really ‘get it.’”

Since 2006, Ryan House has been campaigning for necessary funds to furnish, equip and operate the home. “We are currently cultivating our first major donor, which will put us at the halfway mark for our overall capital goal of $6.5 million,” said Martin excitedly. “We plan to break ground in spring 2008, and hope to open by summer 2009.”

DC Ranch residents can assist with the advancement of Ryan House in several ways, including volunteering, pledging commitment to purchase new furnishings or equipment for Ryan House.

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