Ryder defies all odds

November 18, 2017

When Ryder arrived six weeks early, no one was sure if she would survive. The tiny baby girl wasn’t breathing and was clinging to life.

Tests soon revealed an extremely rare genetic disorder called CHARGE syndrome. Ryder’s mom, Kaylee Schalfman, felt helpless and worried about her baby’s future.

“That was scary because they’re telling you that she’s not going to be OK and 20 percent of these kids die with CHARGE syndrome before they’re 5 years old,” she told us.

Only about one in 10,000 children is born with CHARGE syndrome, and each child is affected differently. In Ryder’s case, CHARGE left her with poor eyesight, hearing loss and scoliosis, among other challenges.

The family from Carrington, N.D., turned to Sanford Children’s Fargo. They prayed that the pediatric specialists at Sanford Children’s could give Ryder a chance at a full life.

“We were expecting wheelchairs, a trach, feeding tubes and mental retardation,” said Kaylee. “We were expecting her to never fit in with kids her own age, and it’s been the complete opposite.”

Year by year, Ryder’s team at Sanford Children’s helped her grow stronger and healthier. She learned to walk, talk, communicate with sign language and read braille.

“Having all of our specialists in one place has made life so much easier,” Kaylee said. “Everything that Sanford Children’s has done for us is incredible.”

Today, Ryder is a high-spirited, happy 8-year-old. She continues to amaze and inspire everyone around her.

“Ryder has shown us that you can wake up every morning and find something good about the day no matter how bad things seem,” Kaylee said. “Ryder comes into your life and makes it a brighter place.”

Please consider a gift to Children’s Miracle Network at Sanford Children’s Fargo. Every dollar will stay local to support family services and unique programs, provide staff education and help purchase lifesaving equipment and technology to save and transform lives, close to home.

Make a gift today. Give more kids like Ryder a chance at a bright, healthy future.