By Hannah Gerken
The “terrible twos” are a reality for most parents, especially those of little boys. With endless amounts of energy, a newfound idea of independence, the lack of fear when climbing and playing, and the need to constantly be on the move, parents have a lot on their plates when it comes to parenting. For Ryan, this is no exception. He loves to laugh, to play, to destroy things, and to be mischievous. However, Ryan’s parents have to make sure he is more careful than other little boys.
“He’s just a normal two-year-old,” says Kyle Dolliver, Ryan’s father. “He runs around and jumps off couches. We try to keep him from doing anything that will hurt himself, but at the same time we want him to grow up as a little boy.”
Ryan was diagnosed with vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or vEDS in August 2016. It was an illness that they had never heard of, yet suddenly it was a part of their everyday life. The Dollivers have not let this stop them. Their determination culminated in the creation of Ryan’s Challenge, an organization run by family, friends, and volunteers with the goal of ending the suffering by finding a cure.
The need for research and awareness stems from the rarity of the disease. There are 13 classifications of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, but Ryan’s is the most severe and the rarest. Other organizations that highlight Ehlers-Danlos do not focus on vEDs. There are only two other vEDs organizations in the world. Statistics speculate that in the United States, one in 50,000 has vEDs, yet, only one in 250,000 have been diagnosed.
“None of the other [classifications] are deadly; his is,” says Kyle Dolliver, Ryan’s father. “The others are pain management systems. He is going to have that same pain management system needed, but at the same time, I felt those funds weren’t going to the proper place because I think lives need to be saved.”
Ryan’s Challenge is working to get the word out to the public with the hope that the word will continue to spread. By talking to medical professionals, firefighters, emergency workers, students, and the general public, they are letting the community know that there is a little boy they need to watch out for.
To celebrate Ryan’s third birthday, they will host a Birthday Bash and Virtual Fun Dash 5K on Nov. 18 at The Physicians Centre in Bryan. There will be bounce houses, temporary tattoos, the opportunity to take photos with a motorcycle, and more. All profits from the Virtual 5K will support the organization’s mission. It will be a very family friendly event.
For more information about vEDs or how to get involved with Ryan’s Challenge, visit www.ryanschallenge.org. To register for the Birthday Bash Fun Dash, text “DashBash” to 41444. To sign-up as a volunteer, visit the website or text “Zebra” to 91999.