CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA — Friends and family are preparing for another countywide “Lemon-aid Stand” fundraiser on Aug. 22 that will raise money for a local boy’s treatment in his fight against Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
On July 28, 2006, doctors diagnosed Tanner Rico, now 4 and a half, with the genetic disorder. “It was the loneliest feeling,” said Traci Rico, Tanner’s mom. Tanner’s disorder affects 1 in 3,500 boys worldwide and causes progressive muscle-wasting in those with the diagnosis.
His medical odyssey is not the only tragedy that the family has had too deal with. Pria, Tanner’s 8 year-old sister, suffers from recurrent respiratory papillomatosis and must undergo surgery every six to eight weeks to remove tumor-like lesions on her larynx.
But Traci Rico finds the small nuggets of hope in each new day. “We are very blessed to have people who care about our family,” she said. Although Pria underwent her 18th surgery July 14, doctors said the tumors were smaller and recommended she wait 15 weeks until her next surgery. “That’s been very encouraging,” Traci Rico said. “She’s still frustrated that people can’t hear her.”
“We are past the mourning stage,” Traci Rico said. “Now its time for action.” Friends and neighbors of the Cardiff-by-the-Sea family have rallied in support of the efforts to find a cure for both the Rico children. Early on, neighbor Annie Rump said she was inspired to assist the family in any way possible. The idea for the fundraiser to help the Ricos with the massive expenses that are associated with treatment of Tanner’s disorder was spread through an e-mail.
The idea is simple. People volunteer to set up a “lemon-aid” stand at any location they choose throughout the county. “When we called Seaside Market to ask if we could do the lemon-aid stand again this year they were very excited to have us come back,” Traci Rico said.
As the Rico family prepares to continue Tanner’s treatment at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Traci Rico said she could not have imagined going through the process without the help of so many people. “They have rallied around us, they’re our village,” she said.
Even in the face of daunting medical data, the Rico family remains optimistic that Tanner will not succumb to the disorder. “In our lifetime I think we will see a cure or at least a Band-Aid,” Traci Rico said. “Until then, our goal is to make sure he is walking and healthy so that when that cure comes he can benefit from it,” she said. “We’re on a mission to save his life.”
The economic price for Tanner’s treatment is daunting, even for a family with insurance coverage. “There are so many things that aren’t covered,” Traci Rico said. All of the proceeds go toward Tanner’s multiple medications and out-of-state hospital visits.
Although the economy has impacted charitable giving overall, Traci Rico said her family is grateful for any support. “Last year we made $3,000 at the fundraiser in Fallbrook, but this year it was closer to $700,” she said. “Times are tougher now, we are thankful that people still find it in their hearts to give,” she said. “It means so much to us.”
“We have been so blessed,” Traci Rico said. “Someone told us early on to ‘check your pride at the door’ and it’s the most humbling thing we’ve ever had to do,” she said. “But we’ve asked for help and continue to do so.”
For more information about Duchenne muscular dystrophy and recurrent respiratory papillomatosis or to get an update on the family’s progress and how to make a contribution, visit www.weelittlemanrico.com.