Why I am riding for Ryther
This was not a very deliberate decision actually. I was toying with the idea with one of my colleagues who rode for Ryther last year, Clay Thompson. We’d talk about this year’s ride and he was fairly encouraging, given my age (55+), small stature and the fact I didn’t own a road bike and wasn’t into biking regularly. Then I got some news about an abnormal mammogram which led to more extensive tests and a surgical biopsy. After the doctor said the word “benign,” I texted Clay I would do the STP Ride for Ryther and he responded, “Portland or bust!” That was February 12th.
As part of the development and marketing team at Ryther we seek out success stories and we come to know the horrendous histories and amazing healing of the children in the cottages. Despite being here since 2008, these stories still stun, sadden and inspire. Similar circumstances for so many include chronic and insidious neglect, cruel abuse, poverty, domestic violence and hopelessness. Parental untreated mental illness and substance abuse also play into many of their lives. But when children enter one of Ryther’s cottages, they are made to feel safe, given a comforting daily structure, meals, clothing, good hygiene, shoes, healing therapies and a chance to be a kid. Every child has a treatment plan with goals. When they are ready to leave Ryther it means that they completed their individualized treatment plans and are ready to live in a less restrictive setting, like a family home. How does a child go from hours- long tantrums, biting when frustrated, flat affect, self-harming and self-loathing to a healthy child who takes pleasure in receiving positive affirmation, helping peers and feeling good about who they are?
The answer is time, expertise and resources. You need all three.
A child at Ryther cannot simply will him or herself to achieve a goal of a better life in a loving home without time, expertise and resources. It occurred to me that I can’t possibly achieve the goal of crossing the finish line in Portland without these same elements. I have spent hours on the Burke Gilman and Marymoor trails and have solicited advice from the many bike aficionados we have here in Seattle as well as read blogs and forums on all things bike related. But it’s the resources (money) that has helped buy me the good bike, clothing and equipment. I am fortunate that I can access these things to reach my goals. For a while I took this for granted but no longer. And in relation to how we help children at Ryther we don’t take anything for granted either.
I am riding for Ryther because the children in the cottages need the resources to reach their goals. Ryther has the expertise in its psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and counselors. We strive to give them the time they need. This ride and your donation will make it possible for a specific child to access something that is only for that one child, whether it is a new pair of glasses that were accidentally broken, shin guards to participate on a local soccer team or a bite toy to safely help ease frustration.
Ride for Ryther will help give each child the resources needed so he or she can reach the finish line of simply sitting around a dinner table with parents/caregivers who can care for them and who will love them.
It may take me 3 days to get to Portland but I will get there. Thank you for supporting the children at Ryther.
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