Dad runs across country to raise money in memory of his son
RYAN and Karen Fowler were horrified when doctors told them to put their young son into palliative care just before Christmas.
The Fowlers had already been told five times in five weeks to say their final goodbyes and yet Rio still fought on against a rare disease. They could not bear the idea of giving up and handing him over to palliative care.
“I didn’t want to give up. God gave us this beautiful boy and I wanted to hold on to him for as long as possible,” Mr Fowler said.
But, in an amazing turnaround, the Fowlers have dedicated their lives to fundraising for more children’s hospices because of the care, compassion and priceless family time they received in palliative care before Rio’s death, at 17 months, on January 15.
Channel 7 newsreader Mark Ferguson has nominated Mr Fowler for the Pride of Australia medal, which recognises courage, overwhelming community spirit and lifesaving actions.
The Sydney news anchor heard of the Fowler’s struggle through his sons, who attend Scot’s College in Bellevue Hill, where Mr Fowler teaches and coaches tennis.
“Ryan’s courage and capacity to do something for others in an extraordinarily difficult situation is truly wonderful and courageous,” Mr Ferguson said.
“Many parents would curl up into a ball and not want to leave the house after what they went through, so to try and help others is truly inspiring.”
Rio, after a suspected case of gastroenteritis, was diagnosed with a rare artery disorder that his doctors believe was the first case in a child.
The condition, arterial vasculopathy, caused the inside wall of Rio’s arteries to keep growing and block blood supply to his organs.
Yet the doctors and nurses at Bear Cottage in Manly kept Rio comfortable and the whole family, including Rio’s sister Remi, 4, enjoyed a final Christmas together.
Mr Fowler will run from Melbourne to Sydney in October to raise awareness of the country’s shortage of children’s hospice beds.
There are only three children’s hospices in the country with a combined total of 24 beds.
“There’s a critical need for more children’s hospices to help support kids with a terminal illness and their families during the most difficult time in their lives,” Mr Fowler said.
Donate to Ryan’s cause at www.rioslegacy.org.au
NOMINATIONS FOR PRIDE OF AUSTRALIA ARE NOW OPEN AND EVERYONE IS ABLE TO NOMINATE. FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT PRIDEOFAUSTRALIA.COM.AU