Dr. Robert Saidel

Dr. Robert Saidel and his wife Rita founded Ryan’s Wish Foundation in memory of their son, who strived to live life to the fullest even as he battled cancer.  

Ryan Saidel was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was 14 years old and fought the disease for five years before he passed. Ryan's Wish Foundation was founded a year after Ryan's death to provide financial support to people living in St. Lawrence County battling cancer. 

Dr. Robert Saidel (left) and his son Ryan. 

“We went through it with my son, Ryan. We have been there and understand what everyone is going through. We have an insight on it and are understanding of everybody’s challenges,” Dr. Saidel said. 

 

Ryan's Wish can provide financial assistance to individuals with cancer as they travel to treatment appointments, no matter their age or diagnosis. Whether it's helping to provide gas cards, money for lodging and meals, or funds for medical co-pays or medications not covered by insurance, the foundation can help.  

 

“We mainly provide transportation and housing. In other words, they might have to stay overnight and pay tolls and for meals and stuff so each person we just have to know about their needs,” Dr. Saidel said. 

 

For some people it’s a five year journey and what we are trying to teach them is they can come back and get more help, no matter how many times it is.

Although the initial goal of Ryan's Wish was to help people living in St. Lawrence County, the organization has since expanded to other areas. In the past 10 years, Ryan’s Wish has given away about $400,000 and helped 900 people in St. Lawrence, Franklin, Lewis and Jefferson counties, and has helped individuals and families travel as far as the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee.  From December 2016 and January through November 2017 Ryan's Wish helped a total of 135 recipients, 117 of which were from St. Lawrence County, and distributed $49,825 in financial help. 

  

“For some people it’s a five year journey and what we are trying to teach them is they can come back and get more help, no matter how many times it is,” Dr. Saidel said. “We are also looking for the person that was diagnosed on Monday and needs to be in Boston by Friday and have no idea how they are going to finance it or get there.” 

Dr. Saidel encourages those facing a cancer diagnosis who need financial help to contact Ryan's Wish and provide the organization with as much information as possible, including how far away their treatment is, how long the trip would be, and their diagnosis and prognosis.  

 

“The more detail they can give us the better,” he added. 

 

For more information about Ryan’s Wish, or to find out how to get help or donate, contact Dr. Saidel at (315) 287-1344 or rsaidel@yahoo.com, or contact Gary West at (315) 782-8410 or gwest29@gmail.com. You can also reach out to Mary Lou Robinson, a volunteer with Ryan’s Wish Foundation, at (315) 393-3402 or (315) 323-4319, or by email at lourog61@yahoo.com.