The Carson City Cancer Center was filled with happy tears Thursday after one young boy battling an autoimmune disease was granted his special wish.
The Reno Rodeo Association surprised 10-year-old William Strange with a $6,500 check to send him on his dream vacation as a part of their Reno Rodeo Wish.
“It is hard to put into words (what this means),” said his mother Lora Strange. “We are extremely surprised, I knew they were nominating us but there are so many people in this area that need it, I didn’t think we were getting it.”
William suffers from an autoimmune disease, which causes constant seizures, and in order to combat them, he has to receive treatments five to seven hours a day for two days in a row every three weeks. This treatment helps him go three to five days without a seizure instead of daily like it used to be.
He has been struggling with his disease since 2015, however it wasn’t until recently they had an actual diagnosis. William’s family had to research potential diseases and push the doctors to try to determine what was wrong with him when he started to get sick. And it wasn’t until they got to Carson Tahoe they were able to get some help.
“Every step of this has been us,” Lora said.
She said the cost of treatment got so difficult for the family they had to even apply for grants, without success.
“When he first got sick, we spent lots of our savings down because this treatment is really expensive, even with insurance,” Lora said.
Lora said the nurses told her they had nominated William for the award.
“It is just a testament to how caring of us they are here,” Lora said. “They saw us and wanted to help us… and to have people care for us so much, it makes me feel full of life to get this because it is so much more than the monetary value. So many people really care for him.”
Every year, the proceeds from the Reno Rodeo go toward the fundraiser, which grants several Northern Nevada children money to help deliver their wishes.
“It is extremely rewarding to know all of the attendees of the Reno Rodeo helped contribute back to the community,” said Clara Andriola, executive director with the Reno Rodeo Foundation.
The association reaches out to the local hospitals to ask for applications for children suffering from illness who would benefit from the money.
“The Reno Rodeo does lots of things for the contestants and the public, but our main goal is to rodeo for the kids, it is tradition and I will swear to that forever,” said Bill Summy, president of the Reno Rodeo Association “It is very heartwarming to know the Reno Rodeo can help fund children like this to help them. To see the smile on his face is so heartwarming and I am so proud to be here to see.”
This year, four children were granted wishes. For William, the money will go to paying for a camping trip in Utah for their whole family.
“Our kids love camping, they really enjoy it,” Lora said.
They will travel to the Grand Canyon and the Four Corners, but will also be able to get William to a center with the University of Utah so he can still receive his treatment. And in addition to the trip, any extra money can go toward extra things for William, like some Legos — his favorite toy. Lora said William also developed a medically induced dyslexia so they can also buy a tablet too so he can have audiobooks to listen to during his treatments.
“It will be those things that I haven’t been able to do for him because there hasn’t been that extra money,” said Lora. “So it makes a big impact on all those little things.”
William and his mom Lora were all smiles and Carson Tahoe staff cried happy tears as the representatives from the Reno Rodeo Association presented William with his check.
“I could hardly contain my emotion,” said RN supervisor Maria Sampang, who nominated William for the award. “We are so lucky to be surrounded by him and his family and to be able to give back to them is amazing.”
William will also get to participate in the Reno Rodeo parade on June 17, during their Kids Night and ride on a float with his three brothers and parents as well as experiencing a VIP experience at the rodeo.
“Good thing I have my cowboy hat,” William said.