Meet the Andrews Family
Like so many Ryan House parents, Jolyn Andrews has been faced with impossible choices as a result of her son Joel’s medical condition. He’s been visiting Ryan House for respite stays since it first opened in 2010. We recently had the chance to catch up with Jolyn to learn more about her family’s Ryan House journey these past 10 years.
At only four-months-old, my son Joel was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 1, a condition that causes tumors to grow on nerve endings.
The news was harrowing to me as, at the time, I was raising both Joel and his older brother, Carter, on my own. Adding to the heartache, after an MRI, doctors discovered an optic glioma, a tumor in the brain that presses on the optic nerve threatening blindness. I struggled daily to balance it all, feeling as if I was in a Sophie’s Choice moment: “Do you go by with both of them doing a horrible job? Or do you kind of save one to save the other? I mentally and emotionally could not go on.”
Luckily, because of Ryan House, I didn’t have to make that impossible choice. I first discovered it when it opened 10 years ago, on the heels of a five-day ICU hospital stay.
Whenever Joel visits Ryan House, you would think he owns it. He is the mayor, the ambassador of Ryan House. His respite stays continue to provide me with cherished time to recharge and focus on my eldest son, Carter.
Today, Joel and our family are thriving as we continue to navigate his life-threatening diagnosis. My family has grown exponentially. I got married in 2012 to my wonderful husband, Steven, and have two amazing stepsons Devyn and Weston. And, Joel’s time at Ryan House inspired me to go back to school and obtain a master’s degree in Social Work because I wanted to give hope and support to others in their fight just like Ryan House did for me.
I’m now a licensed social worker for a local nonprofit where I help families and individuals who’ve experienced trauma. The work is both rewarding and relatable because of our near-death experiences with Joel and that vulnerable, gut-wrenching feeling like I had nowhere else to turn.
When you have a child with a life-threatening condition, it’s near impossible to turn to family members or friends to ease the load of caring for them. It’s simply too much to handle and you’re left feeling alone like you have nobody to rely on. Ryan House is there for us and so many other families like ours, to put their nurturing arms around you. Your child is catered to, loved, and never excluded from anything. It’s like Disneyland to our kids… magical.
That’s why I’m sharing my journey with you today. Please consider designating your Arizona Tax Credit to Ryan House. Your donation provides much-needed support, love, and peace of mind to families like mine, so they never have to feel alone and be faced with impossible choices.
Now 12-years-old, Joel enjoys karate. He’s also a Boy Scout, a really great student, and an aspiring YouTube influencer with more than 700 subscribers!
When Joel visits Ryan House, he continues to inspire the staff to understand what it means to enjoy every day. Whether it be making crafts or letting an ice cream cone melt all over him, Joel finds the humor and fun in every situation.
Will you support Ryan House so that they can continue to provide wonderful experiences for families like mine?
With love and gratitude,
Your Arizona Tax Credit donation is a lifeline for families like the Andrews. The tax credit allows Arizona taxpayers to make donations to charities like Ryan House while receiving a dollar-for-dollar reduction in their Arizona state tax liabilities. Click here to learn more about the tax credit and make your donation today.