Ryder Killam has had to battle rain, wind, and snow for about 15 minutes every day for the last three years, using only a patio umbrella as protection.
However, after learning about his problem, local students in Bradford, Rhode Island got to work and built him his own bus shelter for the bottom of his driveway during their construction lessons.
“Ryder uses it every day before school and his nurses wait inside it every day while they await his return home,” Ryder’s father, Tim, 39, said. “He does like to go hang out in it from time to time as his fort as well.”
Ryder was born with spina bifida myelomeningocele and has never been able to walk. He began using a wheelchair only when he was two years old. In June 2019, Ryder started attending inclusionary preschool Dunn’s Corner Elementary and had to be pushed for 75 feet to the end of the road to wait for his school bus by his parents Tim and Nikea, 39.
Due to his condition, if Ryder was running late on any given day he was unable to rush for this bus like his peers. Thus in order to avoid missing the bus, he’d have to wait for up to 15 minutes out in whatever weather it was.
In September 2021, when Ryder started kindergarten, Tim decided to put up a patio umbrella at the end of his driveway to provide some shelter from the elements.
“The problem is with the wind and fall weather here in New England it really didn’t accomplish much unless it was just a rainy day with no wind, otherwise he still would get wet and not stay warm,” Tim said.
To find a solution for his son, Tim decided to reach out to their community to see if anyone had anything that would work to protect Ryder from the elements.
“I placed a post on Facebook looking to see if one of my friends or one of their connections might have an old bus hut,” Tim, who runs a marine electronics company, said. “I see them here and there on people’s property and figured maybe someone had one and had grown children that might not need it anymore.”
After putting up the post, Tim was suggested by a WPS member to reach out to the construction class at Westerly High and ask if they would want to take on the project of building Ryder a bus stop hut.
Tim then sent Dan McKena, who had been teaching construction technology at Westerly High School for the past 27 years, an email asking if he’d be interested in this kind of project.
“He responded with an absolutely and then he worked with his students to design, and build the hut,” he said.
Three of Mckena’s classes worked hard on the project for numerous weeks, learning new skills through YouTube as they created the structure, motivated by the cause and knowing that soon snow would be falling.
About $300 worth of wood was donated by Home Depot for the project, but the rest of the materials were purchased by the Killams for $600, who were kept updated with photos throughout.
The hut was built 5×8 feet so that it could fit both Ryder and one of his parents or a nurse comfortably. Six weeks after working on the project the hut was delivered to Ryder’s house on Nov. 2.
“We were shocked, it was much bigger than we expected and allows such great access for Ryder and an adult to be with him comfortably,” Tim said. “Ryder … loved it and wants to hang out it in all the time.”
The family sent a photo of Ryder in the bus shelter and thanked them for their hard work.
“This project brought out community together a bit, it showed that there is still so much good in this world and town!” Tim said.
“It absolutely makes life easier, because the door to the bus is 75+ feet apart we can sit outside in the hut and stay out of the elements,” Tim added. “Because it is a bit of an effort to go from the house to the bus, and the ramp takes time to lower out of the bus to load him on, it absolutely has made things much smoother.”
According to a Facebook post by Tim, in the middle of December, Ryder even got the opportunity to meet Westerly High School students and the teacher who built his bus hut.
Epoch Times Staff contributed to this report.