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Early last month, 5-year-old Ryland Ward was shot five times during the Sutherland Springs mass shooting, which killed 26 and left 20 injured after a gunman opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Texas. Ward is still healing in the hospital, with a GoFundMe setup for his medical care. But as the holiday season continues on, Ryland’s family knows one way Americans can help him feel better about spending the holidays in a hospital: sending him a Christmas card.
The idea first came to Ryland’s family after he began receiving Christmas cards with a dollar inside. Each one brightened up Ryland, who was originally expected to leave the hospital in time for Christmas but will probably remain for another six to eight weeks while his shattered femur recovers. So Ryland’s family is encouraging people from all over to send in Christmas cards while he heals.
“You got so many nice people that are sending a card and a dollar to Ryland,” Ryland’s grandmother Sandy Ward explained to KSAT. “He does really enjoy that a lot.”
Ward herself is still mourning the tragedy, which took both Ryland’s stepmother as well as his two sisters, Brooke Ward and Emily Garza. While Ryland’s sister Rianna also survived, Ryland himself hasn’t yet learned that he lost his stepmom and sisters in the attack. She believes he’s somewhat aware, however, because he’s old enough to comprehend what happened.
But even after everything Ryland has gone through, his family says that he’s still smiling. The cards certainly help, too, as KSAT says his family wants to “fill Ryland’s stay at the hospital with joy.”
If you’d like to send a card and a few dollars to Ryland, feel free to write a card to the address listed below. He particularly likes receiving pictures from other kids, along with photos of their pets. And once the Christmas donations are all saved up, Ryland’s family is going to buy him a Go-Kart as a special Christmas present.
P.O. Box 174
Sutherland Springs, Texas 78161
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.