Watching Ryder Cooper run around and play with his friends on Sunday, Oct. 2, it would be hard to imagine the youngster was just months ago in a coma after a freak dirt biking accident.
Ryder and his family joined other members of the Stettler Motocross Club for the annual wind-up barbecue at the racetrack, which is located on the edge of Stettler near the transfer station. In addition to the barbecue being the annual wind-up for the club, it was also a chance for Ryder and his family to thank everyone in the club, and the community, for their love, prayers and support over the past few months.
It was there, at the track and on a pleasant June afternoon, that Ryder and his family had their lives turned upside down.
Ryder, a new biker, came over a hump and crashed, his mother, Dani Rondeel, recalled. His helmet and gear protected him and he got up and started to ride his bike when another rider – unable to see over the dirt hump – came over and landed directly on the younger biker.
The force of the impact slammed Ryder and his bike into the dirt, and he lost consciousness. When his parents were unable to wake him, an ambulance was called and Ryder was taken to Stettler’s hospital, then airlifted to the Stollery Hospital.
There, Ryder remained in a coma for two weeks and a day. In addition to the several brain bleeds, Ryder had 10 broken ribs, two broken collarbones, a collapsed lung and other scrapes and bruises. Since he couldn’t breathe on his own, and because his lung had been collapsed, Ryder was on a ventilator.
Throughout the entire ordeal, family, friends and complete strangers supported Ryder and his family.
“We’ve had an overwhelming amount of prayer and thoughts that were sent our way,” Rondeel said. “From people we’ve never met before, never met Ryder. Just people who heard about it. My phone went crazy for days and days after it happened.”
The community rallied around the family, making donations and offering other forms of support. The financial donations helped ease the impact of Ryder’s injury on the family, as the cost of being away from work and at the hospital was financially draining.
Ryder’s doctors expect him to make a full recovery, though he will not be allowed to race on the track until a full year has passed from the accident.
“(The doctors said) so long as he’s careful, wears the right gear and has enough recovery time, Ryder will be fine,” Rondeel said. “The year is more or less to make sure he heals up.”
That her son will get back on his bike and race – and wipe out – is something that MOM is comfortable with.
“This accident was a one in a million situation,” Rondeel concluded.