by Rachel Hunter
The 2019 Ryan’s Wish Foundation Golf Tournament raised funds to help those diagnosed with cancer and serious illnesses throughout St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Franklin and Lewis counties. The annual benefit golf tournament was held last Saturday, August 17 at Emerald Greens in Gouverneur. The format was a four-man captain and crew. A gross amount of $7,000 was raised, and $14,000 were received through generous corporate sponsorships.
Dr. Robert Saidel and his wife Rita founded Ryan’s Wish Foundation in memory of their son, who strived to live life to the fullest even as he battled cancer. Ryan Saidel from Gouverneur, NY was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was 14 years old and fought the disease for five years before he passed at age 19 on February 7, 2004. During his five-year struggle, Ryan touched the lives of countless people. To those around him, Ryan defined the word courage as he lived his life inspiring others to make the best of each and every day.
A year after Ryan’s death, the Ryan’s Wish Foundation was created to celebrate Ryan’s inspirational life, and is dedicated to helping others who are battling a serious illness “play and live strong.”
Ryan's Wish can provide financial assistance to individuals with cancer and serious illnesses as they travel to treatment appointments, no matter their age or diagnosis. Whether it is helping to provide gas cards, money for lodging and meals, or funds for medical co-pays or medications not covered by insurance, the foundation can help..
“Thank you everyone for coming,” Dr. Saidel said. “There’s probably not a person here that hasn’t been affected by cancer in their family in one way or another. It’s not about us today. It’s about who we can help this week, next week, and in the following years getting to their treatments, getting help going to Hepburn, going to Boston, going to NYC.”
He then reported that the Ryan’s Wish Foundation helped 164 individuals in 2018, giving out over $66,000. Since January, the foundation has helped 120 individuals, giving out over $43,000.
“You can see the need is out there,” Dr. Saidel said. “We’ve got a lot of new sponsors this year, and lots of sponsors from last year. We are just so grateful that you believe in our mission, and that you continue your generous donations, helping out, buying stuff, playing skins, giving corporate money, and stuff has been able to make us function really well.”
Gratitude was shown to local businesses and organizations for their generous support. This includes the following: Gouverneur Central School (Pink Zone and Dress Down Friday), Father-Daughter Dance organized by Vickie Mussaw-Kipp, St. Lawrence County Health Initiative, Ogdensburg Free Academy, Enterprise, Inc., Nutn’ Fancy, Kinney Drugs Foundation, Gouverneur Savings and Loan Association, Community Savings Bank, Casablanca Restaurant, Superior Plus, Bonaparte Pharmacy, LLC, Judy Brown, Frank and Diane Bergau, Northland Veterinary Hospital, Cives, Stewarts Shops, RSI Roofing, Gouverneur Medical Staff, Gouverneur Hospital, Andrew and Sharon Williams, Dr. Scott Day, Andrew and Crystal Leonard, Jenne & Carr Insurance Agency, Inc., Carthage Turkey Bowl, St. James School, Emerald Green Golf Course, Jules of Life, Northern Credit Union, Ice Cream Bowl (Bowhall family), Weekes Agency, Dr. Curt Ross, DDS, G&R Auto, O.D. Green, Gretchen E. Tessmer Attorney At Law, Newvine Auto Parts LLC, Joe Laurenza, Car Freshener, Sandy Green (in memory of Brian Green), Dr. Nicholas Gardner, DDS, Donna Sheen Besaw Tax Consultant, Dr. Mark and Robin Truax, Clearview Motel (Pistolesi family), New York Pizzeria, Mike and Brenda Saidel, LP Thompson Insurance Agency, LTD, ENI Mechanical, Inc. (Andy Leonard), and Frary Funeral Home.
Dr. Saidel also said that Ryan’s Wish Foundation received generous contribution from the St. Lawrence County Cancer Fund from the Edward I. Moses Run/Walk For Life Event, which is held annually in April. And also received over $10,000 from the Carthage Turkey Bowl, a touch football game held annually the first Saturday in November. Dr. Saidel also added that the Ryan’s Wish Foundation benefits from many other fundraising events throughout the year.
Also, gratitude was extended to the generous businesses that provided tournament prizes: Ives Hill Country Club, Texas Roadhouse, Willowbrook Golf Club, Highland Meadows Golf Club, Fins Eatery and Pub, Mary Lawrence – St. Lawrence University Golf Course, Fairgrounds Inn, Savory Downtown, Watertown Golf Club, and Casablanca Restaurant.
Dr. Saidel encourages those facing a cancer diagnosis who need financial help to contact Ryan's Wish and provide the organization with as much information as possible, including how far away their treatment is, how long the trip would be, and their diagnosis and prognosis. People can contact the Saidel family at (315) 287-1344 or Gary West at (315) 955-2101 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, if they know of an individual or family who may benefit from the Ryan’s Wish Foundation.
The Ryan’s Wish Foundation Board of Directors includes Dr. Robert and Rita Saidel, Dr. Don and Glenda Schuessler, Sandy Green, Mary Lou Robinson, Karen Keenan, Matthew Hudson, Heather Bowman, John and Mary Cunningham, and Gary and Kim West.