Nearly 175 guests, including Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Ryan House Founders Jonathan and Holly Cottor and their two sons Ethan Cottor and Ryan House namesake Ryan Cottor, along with supporters, volunteers and staff attended The Board of Visitors “Ryan House Day” in celebration of its fifth birthday on March 29.
Mayor Stanton surprised guests with an official City of Phoenix Proclamation deeming March 29 as “Ryan House Day.”
He and Ryan House Founders Jonathan and Holly Cottor, led the crowd in a celebratory sparkling cider toast and official birthday cake cutting to commemorate the occasion.
Kids and families enjoyed a wide variety of festive activities during the celebration, including face painting, arts and crafts and a special visit by the Phoenix Fire Department with an exclusive tour of a Phoenix Fire Truck.
Ryan House provides respite, palliative and end-of-life care to children with life-threatening conditions. It is only one of two facilities in the country solely for pediatrics. And with Hospice of the Valley, it is the only intergenerational hospice in the country.
Approximately 85 percent of children and families Ryan House cares for are from Maricopa County.
Since opening its doors five years ago, Ryan House has provided nearly 9,000 days of respite to more than 700 children with life-limiting conditions and their families; and supported 330 children at end of life. More information can be found at www.RyanHouse.org.
Ryan’s House was named for Ryan Cottor, who was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
“When our family first learned that our youngest son, Ryan was not just a “late bloomer” in the area of motor development, but that he instead was born with a life-limiting diagnosis for which there is no treatment or cure, we probably experienced emotions similar to those that thousands of parents and families experience throughout the U.S. and world on any given day,” recalls his mother, Holly Cottor.
Told to take Ryan home and enjoy the time they had with him, the Cottors felt devastated, shocked, anxious about what the days or months ahead may bring, and uncertain about the many decisions to make.
“Living in England at that time, and very far away from family in Arizona, Ryan’s physical therapist sensed the sadness and strains we faced. She referred us to a house in nearby Oxford, England where we could take Ryan, as a family or on his own, for short breaks: Helen House.”
While unsure of what they would experience at Helen House, but driven to the brink of depression from sleep-deprivation alone, they scheduled their first visit to see if it would be a fit for the family. It was then the Cottors learned that while Helen House offered respite care for children and families, it also offered pediatric palliative care.
“The caring team with which we met, offered a small brochure for families to further explain the term: ‘Palliative care for children with life-limiting conditions is an active and total approach to care, embracing physical, emotional, social and spiritual elements.’
“Although a brief description, we’ve since learned that pediatric palliative care homes offer a lifeline of support to both the children and families caring for them,” said Ms. Cottor.
“Our family was fortunate to be able to stay with Ryan at Helen House on several occasions and even had Ryan stay on his own for several days while we packed to return to Arizona at the end of March 2003.
“We were so touched by the care we received at Helen House that we asked during our last stay what we would find in America. They weren’t certain we would. With the help of family, friends, and exceptional community leaders and organizations, grassroots efforts led to the founding of Ryan House.”
With an initial planning grant from St. Luke’s Health Initiatives and a bridge grant from Hospice of the Valley, Ryan House incorporated in August 2004 and received I.R.S. 501(c)(3) status the following spring.
“Ryan House continues to partner with families to provide the very best pediatric palliative care and offer hope, courage, love, care, and friendship. For so many families, it has not come soon enough,” said Ms. Cottor.