We are constantly told to look at the ability in a child and not the disability and 4 year old Ruby Radley is a living testament that there is always hope if you have faith.
Back in October 2014 Richard and Jo Radley, who had been fostering children since 2011, were asked to be carers for a 5 week old baby girl with complex special needs, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, visual impairment and other conditions still yet to be diagnosed. They were apprehensive but from the moment they met her, laid in her hospital bed, they felt a bond and that God had chosen them to take care of Ruby. They took her home a week later after she had undergone surgery to place a shunt in her brain to remove the fluids from the hydrocephalus.
Right at the very beginning Richard and Jo were told that Ruby would probably never walk, sit, stand or crawl, she was almost blind, and would be extremely delayed mentally. Yet they loved her unconditionally from the beginning that first contact in hospital, so the disabilities did not concern them such was their faith that God had placed Ruby with them, to love, cherish and create a home where she could shine, whatever her ability.
After, many months of Ruby being in foster care with Richard and Jo, the family applied to adopt her. It then took another eighteen months for Ruby to be officially a Radley in 2015.
Ruby was surrounded with love although because of her delays it took until five and a half month for her to laugh or smile, that happened when her new adoptive sister Bethan, made her laugh – it proved to be an exciting moment for everyone and demonstrated ‘she was responsive’. It was following this first interaction that Ruby’s vision began to improve.
Most people with know Richard as Reverand Richard Radley Senior Church Leader for Team Parish Billingham and his wife Jo as the force behind rallying our communities to work together, so it was natural for family, parish and community to rally storming Heaven with prayers for Ruby’s wellbeing.
Richard said, ‘We believe that prayer played a massive part in Ruby’s development along with hard work, grit and determination on our part as a family, but mostly on Ruby’s. Ruby did lots of things late; she commando crawled at 8 months. Had a wheelchair at eighteen months which gave her greater independence, though it still took her until she was three years old to walk with the aid of a walker. And now a year on she is in mainstream school doing really well and has completed her first disability triathlon’.
Jo continued ‘In the past four years of Ruby’s life there have been a few times when we have almost lost her and she has had to have a couple of emergency operations to save her life. Again each time she has been covered in prayer. A number of hospital admissions where our prayer chain was vital. The support, love and care, which we as a family have had through many of Ruby’s difficult situations has been amazing and such a blessing. Our church has loved and prayed us through each hospital admission and much more.’
Ruby has proved she is a little fighter with whatever she has faced, sometimes you can’t believe that she can achieve things yet she will find a way to compensate, such is her determination.
For Ruby’s triathlon she needed to be able to swim, ride a bike and run. Her training consisted of learning to swim with help. The whole family have gone swimming to help her progress and she has benefitted from swimming lessons via family friend Emma Smith. Bethan and Beki, her sisters, have encouraged Ruby to race with them, be that at church, in the shop, at the park – just do it! Ruby did know that if she got tired she could use her wheelchair, so she would practice racing another member of our church, Ian Dawson, in his chair on Sunday mornings. However, Ruby didn’t resort to using her wheelchair in the actual running section of the triathlon she just used her walker.
Ruby learnt to ride a trike earlier this year and practiced through the summer.
The triathlon was organised by Children’s Disability Gotri and was held at the David Lloyd Club, Newcastle upon Tyne. This was a sponsored event. Ruby’s sponsorship was to help buy a freewheel, this is an extra wheel to attach to the front of Ruby’s wheelchair to enable her to go off road, walk on the woods and on the beach of sand or pebbles. This would be impossible without the extra wheel as these terrains are very difficult for Ruby walking and would mean more independence and allow us to do these things has a family.
The picture is Ruby alongside Matt Wylie MBE paralympian of the Rio 2016 games. Ruby is proudly wearing and holding her medal for completing the triathlon while Matt hold his Gold medal.