For a child, their birthday is perhaps one of the most exciting days of the year. This is the day they get cake, presents and all the attention in the world.
This little boy celebrated his birthday in a similar fashion, but what happened the next day has left his family devastated forever…
Jenna Henn Knechtle and Tobias Knechtle lived what seemed like a fairytale life in Wernersville, Pennsylvania. The family had three adorable little boys that the parents doted on.
The boys Channing, Bentley, and Ryder were incredibly close-knit to their parents and each other. The family of five would always stick together and have as much fun as they wanted.
Their youngest born was Ryder who arrived in their lives on September 21, 2016. The family adored their youngest member, who was incredibly close to his older brothers.
The little boy was lively and happy. He loved superheroes and would often dress up as them because he was determined to save the world from bad guys and be a hero.
Apart from his brothers, he also loved playing with the family pet who is named Sadie Mae. The little boy was often spoiled by his loved ones and had a wonderful sense of humor as well.
The family seemingly had a perfect life till in 2020 when Ryder was three years old and his parents started noticing some issues he was having. Ryder was having issues with his vision which concerned his parents who immediately sought medical advice.
This is when life turned upside down for the Knechtle family. They found out that Ryder had a brain tumor on his brain stem. The tumor was a cancerous Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma that was terminal.
This is when the family knew they had little time left with their bundle of sunshine and decided to make the most of the little time they had with him. While the family continued his treatment, they also decided to make every day spent with their son special.
They did not tell their older sons the extent of their little brother’s condition because they wanted them to enjoy time with their brother without worrying too much.
The parents also set up a Facebook page called ‘Rally for Ryder,’ they shared updates on Ryder’s health to let everyone know how he was doing. On September 15th, 2022 the family shared some heartbreaking news.
His mom Jenna wrote the update which talked about the last MRI they had done for their son. The update read, “Our hearts are beyond repair and completely shattered into dust. We have no idea how we’ll ever pick up the pieces.”
The heartbroken mother wrote how she had hoped her little boy would defy the odds. “I always hoped Ryder would be the One. The miracle! And he showed so much promise in the beginning.”
She said she found solace in the fact that her son would be in heaven and they would eventually reunite some day. She wrote, “I would give absolutely anything to hear his voice one last time. To feel a Ryder squeezer around my neck. To watch him play with his brothers. To hear him say “I Love you Mom.” To play just one more game of Uno. Things you take for granted everyday are the saddest when they’re lost.”
On September 20th, the mother of three updated the page talking about how her little boy was now slowing down and that it was heartbreaking to watch. She also noted how hard it was for her and her husband to remain strong for their other sons.
They placed the little boy in hospice care, where Jenna said he was being very well taken care of. The family showered their little boy with even more attention and affection. Jenna noted how tough the entire situation was, saying, “we want him at peace but we can’t imagine a day without him. It’s an awful feeling.”
When it was time for Ryder’s sixth birthday, his family was determined to make it a special one, knowing he had mere days left in his life. When he woke up on the morning of his birthday, he played games with his brothers, read his favorite book, watched his favorite show “Peppa Pig,” and cut a delicious birthday cake.
But the little boy began feeling different soon and when the hospice staff checked him over, they informed the family that he did not have much time left.
After spending his birthday with his loved ones doing all the things he loved doing, little Ryder passed away peacefully. He passed away on September 22nd, and his mother posted about his death the following day. She wrote, “My beautiful baby is now an angel. We think Ryder held on for his 6th birthday bc he passed the day after it! I don’t think that was a coincidence at all. He wanted those presents, cake, and fireworks! I’m so glad we got to do that for him!”
After the news of his death was shared by his parents, well-wishers poured in their condolences with Jennifer Capone writing, “I know what today and the rest of his parent’s life will feel like. It’s so unfair.”
The local police force, where Ryder was made a special police officer in June of this year by Mayor George Holmes also wrote about their heartbreak following the news of the little boy’s death.
The young boy’s funeral is planned for Wednesday 28 September 2022. His family is asking people to donate to Elle’s Angels, a foundation that is dedicated to finding a cure for DIPG in their little boy’s memory and to honor him.
The Knechtles were grateful for all the support they had gotten in the last three years. The GoFundMe page they had set up for their little boy gained traction again and reached almost $99,000 of its original $100,000 goal.
This young family is truly going through an incredibly tough time. We are sending them love and well-wishes to make it through this difficult time.
Share Ryder’s story so more people can know about the life of this brave little boy and how he fought to the very end.