Gas Cards for Vets
If you are a local veteran you know that VA services are limited on the Central Coast. Almost all of the specialized or advanced VA medical facilities are located in Los Angeles. With the current economy and high gas prices many local veterans cannot afford the trip to Los Angeles preventing them from receiving much needed medical care.
Seeing that this was an unacceptable situation, the Chapter 750 Ladies Auxiliary worked in conjunction with California MOPH to acquire twenty fuel cards worth $25 each. The fuel cards were donated to the Santa Barbara VA clinic to be handed out to veterans in need.
“Mama, we are going to kick leukemia in the junk!”
“Mama, we are going to kick leukemia in the junk!” This is what 5 year old Ryan Raffel told his mother after she struggled to tell him of his cancer and the rough road ahead of him. Like a true warrior Ryan met the challenge head-on with courage and a smile. After four grueling rounds of chemo and all the side effects that come with the treatment Ryan was cancer free, the family could finally move forward. Sadly the hope and relief was short-lived. Just a short 5 weeks later Ryan’s cancer was back and worse than before. Ryan again underwent intense chemotherapy but with no effect. It wasn’t long until the doctors were using statements like “quality of life” and “making him comfortable”. Again Ryan’s courageous heart shone through. He told his mother “Mama, I beat it once and i’m going to beat it again”. The doctors quickly came up with a plan, a new treatment protocol that would give Ryan the best chance. The protocol was quite successful and Ryan was scheduled for a bone marrow transplant. In preparation for the transplant and to prevent a relapse before the operation could take place, the doctors had Ryan undergo additional chemotherapy. The chemo left Ryan’s immune system severely compromised. It wasn’t long till Ryan developed meningitis in his brain and a severe lung infection. Within a week Ryan went into multiple organ failure and died two days shy of his 6th birthday and just 5 days before his bone marrow transplant.
Ryan’s father Michael is an active duty Soldier in the United States Army. When Ryan was diagnosed, Michael and the family were stationed in Germany. In order for Ryan to receive the care he desperately needed Michael, his wife and two daughters had to undergo a short notice PCS back to the states. Despite the Army paying for Ryan’s treatment the family had to pay a great deal out-of-pocket in order to stay by his side. The cost of hotels, food and incidentals over the year Ryan battled cancer quickly added up. The family was left with the loss of a son, depleted savings and significant bills.
Thanks to all the generous people of the Central Coast, most notably the elite athletes of Crossfit Ohana, who purchased Purple Heart Supporter pins the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 750 was able to raise $500 for Ryan’s family. Though a small gesture, hopefully this donation will help Ryan’s family get back on their feet and move forward with healing.
If anyone is interested in doing more for Ryan’s family or other military families battling childhood cancer please visit ryansbattlebuddies.org.