INDIANAPOLIS (WISH)– An 11-year-old boy from Greenfield, Indiana is celebrating his birthday, but 11 has extra special meaning because it’s a day that wasn’t guaranteed. This birthday came two years after he found out he had leukemia.
While his family, friends and community are overcome with joy, his mom, Rachel Ralstin, remembers a different feeling two years ago. Tyler Ralstin was having a tough time.
“He’d been having headaches and was just kind of slow and not himself,” she said. “He was 8-years-old about to turn nine so it was a couple months before his ninth birthday,” Rachel recalls.
They found out Tyler had leukemia and it was aggressive. In fact, Rachel says it was so intense that Tyler had to go to the Intensive Care Unit because his blood was no longer flowing because of the thickness of the leukemic cells.
“We knew something was going on and it was almost once we had a name to it we could then make a plan and fight,”
The disease didn’t make the fight easy. Tyler told All Indiana reporter Randall Newsome it took away his normal.
” I couldn’t play any of my sports,” Tyler said. ” I couldn’t really do anything. I’d just lay in bed all day.”
“His leukemia is rare and mean and unforgiving,” Rachel said.
However, with treatment and support from Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Tyler went into remission and they got to celebrate with a trip to Hawaii. When they returned from the vacation, Rachel had one thing on her mind.
This was a rare birthday; a birthday destined to make magic. Rachel and KJ McGlinn with Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana put their heads together for a special fundraiser.
“She said 11/11,” Rachel remembers her conversation with K.J. ” 11-years-old on the 11th. 11/11 you’ve heard [means] make a wish. I was like it’s perfect.”
“I tried to raise $1,111,” Tyler said. “Well, I did that in like the first four days.”
“Clearly, we did not aim high enough, what this kid was capable of,” Rachel said.
They decided to set a bigger goal. “You need $10,000 to pay for one Make-A-Wish trip for a kid,” Tyler said.
He knows what making these kinds of memories can mean for someone else who might not get good news like he did.
“For some kids they’re really sick,” Tyler said. “That’ll be their last vacation or something so it’ll be important to let their families have memories.”
Meanwhile, the Ralstin family will continue to celebrate their victory in Tyler’s fight with cancer. “The two-year survival rate is not great so this one kind of feels like we did it,” Rachel said.
On Tyler’s “golden birthday” he wanted to thank people for the overwhelming support for his cause. “Thank you a lot for giving and for taking time out of your day and donating,” Tyler said.
Tyler’s birthday saw his fundraiser rise to $7,500 and climbing. Click HERE to find out how you can get involved and make another Make-A-Wish kid’s dream come true.