CUMBERLAND — The family of 3-year-old Landen Ritchie, who has been diagnosed with failure to thrive, selective IgA immunodeficiency, autism and numerous other illnesses, is paying it forward by helping other children with chronic illnesses.
“We are just asking everybody to pay it forward and take one day out of the week and do something for someone else that you wouldn’t normally do,” said Kim Ritchie, Landen’s mother.
The Ritchie family does its part to constantly pay forward, according to Tammy Fraley, who set up a fundraiser for the family on GoFundMe. Landen has to make trips to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., every 14 to 16 days and has become like family to the cancer patients and their families at the hospital, according to Ritchie.
The family has raised funds to donate to Bravery Bags and Angel Love Boxes for children receiving chemotherapy treatment and children who are chronically ill at Ruby Memorial. The bags and boxes are filled with personalized items for the children. Landen received a weighted blanket, which is supposed to help those with autism and sensory needs get to sleep, in his Angel Love Box.
Ritchie describes Landen as a lovable toddler and a fighter who wasn’t supposed to live to see age 3.
“There is something so special about him and when you see him you know that he is going to be great. Even on a bad day he is adorable and he has a lot of bad days,” said Ritchie. “He really does try. He gets frustrated that he can’t do the other things normal kids do like run.”
The family is also selling Loving Landen rubber wrist bands and T-shirts with dinosaurs on them with the words “Loving Landen” on the front and “Failure To Thrive, Fighting to Survive” on the back. Dinosaurs are one of Landen’s favorite things and all proceeds from the T-shirts and wrist bands will go to children at Ruby who are going through chemotherapy.
The community is banding together to raise funds for medical costs for Landen, who has also been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, asthma, left tibial torsion, severe allergies, sleep apnea, hypotonia and hyper IgE syndrome, the most recent diagnosis.
“Thank you to those who have donated to help us. Travel expenses are truly draining and we are so blessed to have people reach out and help,” writes Ritchie on the Loving Landen Facebook page. “Every little bit is a blessing so thank you with all our hearts.”
Hyper IgE syndrome is a rare primary immunodeficiency disease characterized by eczema, recurrent staphylococcal skin abscesses, recurrent lung infections and blood disorders, according to the Immune Deficiency Foundation.
“Landen’s immune system is almost nonexistent and cannot be replaced. He struggles daily but touches everyone’s heart. He is truly a miracle and a warrior,” writes Fraley on the GoFundMe website.
Landen also has food aversion and gets fed through a gastric feeding tube for 21 hours a day. His feeding tube was put in December 2012. He has a wheelchair for days when he gets too tired to move, according to Ritchie.
“He doesn’t eat much and is turned off by the consistency of food,” said Ritchie. “He doesn’t ask for Happy Meals and doesn’t ask to go places. He would much rather be home.”
Landen receives physical therapy and occupational therapy as well as a special instruction teacher weekly, according to Ritchie.
Ritchie had a complicated pregnancy with Landen and had to have an emergency Caesarean section.
“He is a fighter,” said Ritchie. “He is a very tough little boy; he is so used to going to the hospital that he could become a doctor.”
In addition to dinosaurs, Landen’s other favorites are his brother Peyton, 8, chocolate milk and the friends he plays with during the week, according to Ritchie.
Money is needed to cover thousands of dollars in medical and travel costs as well as for medical masks, gloves, and distilled water, which is needed for the feeding tubes, all of which isn’t covered by insurance. A Superhero Spirit Night will be held at the LaVale Chick-fil-A on Feb. 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. with all proceeds going toward travel expenses for the Ritchie family. Also, Kim Llewellyn has set up a Cumberland Loves Landen account at Chessie Federal Credit Union in LaVale to help pay for a handicapped van.
Updates and fundraising information can be found on the Loving Landen Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Loving-Landen/647914358604391.
Checks to Chessie Federal Credit Union can be mailed c/o Debbie Lang/Cumberland Loves Landen, 1308 National Highway, LaVale, MD 21502 and anyone with questions can call 301-777-0575.
Anyone wishing to donate on GoFundMe may do so at http://www.gofundme.com/6bmryk
Contact Elaine Blaisdell at email@example.com.