ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A 6-year-old boy with cerebral palsy had his pirate dream fulfilled on Sunday in downtown St. Augustine.
The First Coast’s dream granting organization, Dreams Come True, surprised Ryder with a special day. He’s from the Panhandle and receives treatment at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
The surprise gave Ryder, who has had more than 60 surgeries, and his family a break from the stress and struggles.
The first stop was to the pirate store in St. Augustine to get garbed up.
“Were in the presence of a miracle,” said Cynthia Cole, Ryder’s grandma. “We really are. He’s amazing and he’s my little hero.”
Cole said her grandson was born at 25 weeks and was only 1 ¼ pounds.
“This is his first vacation, his first time it wasn’t for a medical reason,” said Cole.
Ryder and his cousin, first mate Jonny, searched down St. George Street, looking for treasure.
The Matanzas Bay Buccaneers is a charity of local pirate crews who led the hunt. This is the first time the pirates have granted a dream.
“Dreams Come True is one of our biggest charities, so a lot of our money that we raise throughout the year goes to Dreams Come true,” said Patrick O’Leary, Captain Raider of the Matanzas Bay Buccaneers.
Seeing Ryder’s face as he was surprised by dozens of pirates with the charity, Matanzas Bay buccaneers, was priceless! Such a sweet moment of excitement!! Ryder’s grandma says he was born at 25 weeks and only weighed 1.5 pounds. She calls him a miracle! #DreamBig @DCTJAX @wjxt4 pic.twitter.com/HL5MYxUT3I— Brittany Muller (@BrittMullerNews) June 20, 2021
The Matanzas Bay Buccaneers presented a $3,500 check to the dream-granting organization to help continue to fill the dreams of children.
“As one man I can’t make a difference, but as a team, I can make a difference in at least one life. And that’s what we do. We bought together to the group mentality and we can make a difference in someone else’s life,” said Jack Shiver, quartermaster of the Matanzas Bay Buccaneers.
Ryder said it was the best day ever.
Dreams Come True has fulfilled more than 42,000 dreams since it was founded in 1984. The organization is a nonprofit that serves a seven-county area, including Putnam and Flagler counties. It also serves any child who is treated in any of the local facilities like Wilson Children’s Hospital or Nemours’s Specialty Care. It relies on community donations to support the dreams.
“This is just an incredible experience because the children we serve go through so much,” said Sheri Criswell, Dreams Come True executive director. “To be able to provide a day like this for a special child means everything, and we have a saying: We only get one chance to provide a perfect dream.”
Cole said her grandson has a smile as bright as the sun and you would never know he’s been through so much medically.
“It’s so good to see him relaxed and be a kid,” said Cole.
Dreams Come True is hosting a 5K walk, run and roll on Sept. 25 and is looking for sponsors.