Cuyahoga Falls cancer survivor Ryan Encinas, 4, will serve up some water ice Wednesday at to help raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Ryan, son of Angela Bozic and Robert Encinas, has been named Honorary Wish Child for the inaugural Medical Mutual Walk for Wishes set for June 16 in downtown Akron. The money raised during the event at Rita’s will be given to the Make-A-Wish Foundation by Ryan’s walk team, Ryan's Hope.
There’s plenty of free entertainment on tap from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Rita’s, including the Music & Bubble Machine from Rock The House Entertainment, balloon artist Jeff Wright and face-painter Suzan Houston of 5 Star-Talent.
There will be raffles, prizes and Ryan's Hope T-shirts in addition to delicious Italian ice. A portion of all sales for the evening and 100 percent of donations contributed will help to make children's wishes come true, Bozic said.
Ryan’s family is very grateful to Make-A-Wish for the trip to Disney World the foundation sent them on last October.
“We could never thank Make-a-Wish enough for all they've done for our family. It was truly an amazing experience, not only to be at the most magical place on Earth, but also to see the happiness on Ryan's face and to see him be a kid again after everything he went through,” Bozic said.
Ryan was diagnosed with pleuropulmonary blastoma, an extremely rare pediatric lung cancer, soon after his third birthday in October 2010. Only 10 to 20 cases are reported in the United States each year, according to the International Pleuropulmonary Blastoma Registry.
The toddler endured a 41-week treatment journey that included receiving chemotherapy every three weeks for 24 to 72 hours straight. Ryan also underwent two separate lung surgeries last year, according to the Ryan’s Hope Facebook page set up to share his journey. Pathology reports after the second surgery in April 2010 confirmed there was no more cancer in Ryan’s body.
“He is currently nine months out from treatment, but he has to get full-body scans every three months for the next five years to make sure there’s no growth,” Bozic explained. “Once he’s at the five-year mark, the likelihood of it returning is slim. But with this particular cancer the recurrence rate is like 83 percent, so we’re on pins and needles. We just count our blessings every three months.”
In addition to raising funds for the Medical Mutual Walk for Wishes, the family is selling Ryan’s Hope T-shirts to raise money for a trip to Minnesota in August for the PPB Family Weekend.
“It is a conference that is held only once every other year for kids with PPB cancer and their families to get to know one another, share stories and meet the experts and researchers,” Bozic said. “It is a terrific opportunity for us, but airfare is very expensive for a family of four to fly from Ohio to Minnesota – nearly $2,000.”
The PPB Registry is covering all other costs for the family. The Ryan’s Hope T-shirts featuring Ryan’s artwork are available for a $20 donation. “We only have 15 sold so far and we need to sell 200 to reach our goal,” Bozic said.
The shirts can be purchased Wednesday at Rita’s Ice or by clicking this link for an order form.
Click this link to learn more about the Walk For Wishes event or to make a direct donation.