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.

The foundation helps provide financial support to people living in St. Lawrence County as they travel to cancer treatment appointments, no matter their age.

Ryan Saidel was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was 14 years old. He fought the disease for five years before he died at the age of 19.

The Foundation was founded a year after Ryan’s death. 

“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,” Robert said. 

Ryan’s Wish can help provide gas cards, money for lodging and meals, and funds for medical co-pays or medications not covered by insurance.

The organization has helped individuals and families travel as far as the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee. 

“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,” Robert said.

Although the organization was initially started to help people living in St. Lawrence County, it has since expanded to include other counties. 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. 

“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,” Robert 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.”

Robert encourages people in need of help who think they could benefit from Ryan’s Wish to provide the Foundation with as much information as possible so they can best assist those in need, including how far away the hospital is, how long the trip would be, and the individual’s diagnosis and prognosis. 

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

For more information about Ryan’s Wish, or to find out how to get help or donate, contact Robert 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