Challenge first met Ryder and his Mum Melanie in 2010. Ryder was diagnosed with ATRT, a rare brain tumour, when he was just eight months old. Like many families, they were facing a long and arduous 18-month stay in hospital. It wasn’t long after being admitted that Mel and Ryder became part of the Challenge family.

Mel was young and a first time mum, who admits she kept to herself. Understandably, she never wanted to stray far from her precious boy. On top of everything, Mel was also studying a University degree. This is their story.

Where do I begin? Challenge has helped our family believe, love, care and most of all gave us happiness in our darkest days. They have given so much and continue to do it with passion and a smile.

An example of this was how they helped me while I was in the hospital with Ryder while also studying. Challenge continually gave support, lending me a computer to study and printing off my assignments so I could get them sent in on time. They also weren’t too far away when you needed a chat, sometimes I wondered if they had some sort of super power as they always knew the right time to pop their head in to say hello.

Although Ryder was very young they also made him feel a part of the ‘Challenge family’, lending him toys, movies, music and cuddles. What more could bring a smile to a little boy’s face?

After leaving the hospital we continued to stay in contact. Just when we thought Challenge had given us enough, they surprised us by sending me, Ryder and my sister to AMERICA! We have never felt so overwhelmed and thankful in our lives. Beach, Disneyland, Legoland, amazing hotels and much more; it was truly a dream come true.

Since that holiday we have had a new lease of life. We now believe cancer was a journey that we were sent on to battle, and we won! It’s now no longer ‘that dreaded disease’ that ruined nearly two years of our lives.

So we thank Challenge for their support and all the amazing events they run every year that we have and will continue to attend, along with the many, many other members. If it wasn’t for Challenge, I think we would still have that ‘C’ word stuck in our head, but now we are free, recharged and ready to live our lives. We are stronger and ready to battle whatever comes our way. Challenge has made a difference and we will always be thankful for the rest of our lives.