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March 19th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 11
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Ricky Ryp Foundation helps fund surgery
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Herald Contributor photo
The Ricky Ryp Foundation has donated $10,000 to help pay for Tosia’s potentially life changing surgery.
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
Mark Matuszewski is dreaming of the day his daughter Tosia takes her first steps and thanks to a donation from the Ricky Ryp Foundation, that day might be fast approaching.
“We’re hoping Tosia will start walking within a year after surgery,” said Mark. “First with the help of a walker, then crutches and then hopefully on her own.”
When she was only two days old, Tosia Matuszewski suffered a fourth degree stroke which left her with cerebral palsy, hemiparesis, epilepsy and motor delays. She spent a month in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge, fighting for her life.
Now four years old, Tosia has been working with a physiotherapist, occupational therapist and a speech therapist but she cannot walk. A revolutionary, and expensive, surgery called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) available at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, could help Tosia on her feet.
With the Ricky Ryp Foundation’s donation of $10,000 plus the $40,000 raised at a fundraising dinner and silent auction, held Sunday, Feb. 16 at Legends Pub & Grill in Lethbridge, the Matuszewskis have enough to pay for the first of Tosia’s surgeries.
“We haven’t reached our goal of seventy thousand yet. That would cover both surgeries but we definitely have enough for the first one. We’re trying to figure out where to live in St. Louis, it’s not cheap to live there for a month,” said Mark. “[We’re] trying to find a place with a kitchen so we can cook for Tosia. She’s a bit of a picky eater.”
Dave Brown, of Lethbridge, read about Tosia’s story online and organized the fundraising campaign called ‘Together for Tosia,’ which is how the Ricky Ryp Foundation got involved.

Rick Sharma, spokesperson for the Ricky Ryp Foundation, says the group was started to preserve Rick Rypien’s legacy through charity work.
“All of Southern Alberta was a big part in Rick’s role in making it to the Canucks. He played in Lethbridge and did live in Lethbridge… so for us it was important to help people in the surrounding area,” he said.
The first surgery will cost $58,000 dollars U.S. plus living expenses for a thirty day stay in St. Louis so Tosia can recover. Mark says Tosia’s surgery is scheduled for April. 29, and has a 95 per cent chance of success.
“We are excited about this surgery, and at the same time pretty scared,” said Mark.
According to Washington University in St. Louis, Tae Sung Park developed SDR in 1986 to improve walking in children who suffer spastic cerebral palsy. He has performed SDR surgery on over 2,600 young adults and children from 53 countries.
SDR is a three to four hour surgical procedure followed by several weeks of rehabilitation. It is designed to treat muscle spasticity, tightness or stiffness of muscles, caused by poor communication between the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. Although the procedure will not cure her cerebral palsy, it could grant Tosia the use of her legs.
“It’s a high chance [of success] and obviously they never give a guarantee, no doctor ever does, and the positive is, for anybody, [to] watch a 4 year old girl take her first steps and it would melt anybody’s heart.”
Sharma says this year’s annual charity golf tournament is scheduled for July 25th and 26th in the Crowsnest Pass. Bookings will be made available for businesses first, but individuals can contact a member of the Foundation to enter their teams starting April. 14, at 1 p.m.
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March 19th ~ Vol. 84 No. 11
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