Prineville resident Stryder Doescher will celebrate his sixth birthday at Disneyland thanks the help of to Make-a-Wish Oregon

by: JASON CHANEY - Stryder Doescher, seated next to his mother, Angela, enjoy a birthday/send-off party at Dillon's Grill on Thursday afternoon. Make-a-Wish Oregon is sending him and his family to Disneyland this week to grant his wish of having his birthday there.

Stryder Doescher sat in a booth at Dillon’s Grill last Thursday evening with his mother Angela, sister Kasiah, and father Warren.

Anchored to a table centerpiece flew a group of gold balloons. In front of Stryder lay several gift bags, some of which the young boy, who will turn six years old on Wednesday, had already dug into. He opened a box of Disney’s “Cars” playing cards, and wasted no time in engaging his mom in a game of Go Fish, his favorite. Other packages yielded a little Cars backpack as well as a Disney’s “Airplanes” stuffed animal.

While all of this might resemble an everyday birthday party, other surroundings suggest otherwise. A two-man television news crew hovered around the table taking footage of the scene as it unfolded. Elsewhere, a newspaper reporter snapped pictures.

The news outlets had come for a reason. This was no ordinary birthday party. Seated in the same booth with Stryder were two volunteers from Make-a-Wish Oregon who had come to see the family off before taking a trip this week to “the most magical place on Earth.”

“His wish was he wanted to go to Disneyland for his birthday,” Angela said.

Since he was an infant, Stryder has struggled with multiple health disorders from seizures and speech impediments to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a life-threatening genetic disorder that causes loose joints, hyperelastic skin that bruises easily, and easily-damaged blood vessels.

Make-a-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions throughout the country. Its Oregon chapter has granted more than 2,900 wishes with the help of nearly 250 volunteers.

Tori McCanna and Carolyn Priborsky, Make-a-Wish volunteers from the Central Oregon area, have been working with the Doescher family to make Stryder’s wish come true. On Thursday, they were all smiles as they finally celebrated his send-off.

“I think what’s wonderful about being associated with Make-a-Wish is that we get to meet the family and try to make the wish come true,” Priborsky said. “Then we get to be here at the celebration party to send them off on the wish. It's the best job.”

McCanna has been with the organization for only a few months, and Stryder’s wish is the first she has helped grant.

“It’s a wish come true,” she said of the experience.

The trip will not only grant a wish for Stryder, it will give the Doescher family a much-needed opportunity to relax and recharge before taking on a busy, travel-intensive next few months.

Just days after his Disneyland trip, Stryder will board a plane to Baltimore where a possible heart surgery awaits.

“The doctor we are seeing . . . reviewed his echocardiogram and what it shows is he has an aneurysm in his aortic root and they will have to replace that,” Angela said.

The traveling doesn’t end there. Once Stryder returns home from surgery, he will stay in town for a short while before leaving again in late January for Ohio. There, after a lengthy wait, he will finally meet his new 4 Paws for Ability Service Dog.

Because of his illness, Stryder suffers silent seizures on a regular basis, which can cause permanent brain damage if they are not caught in time. The service dog will be specifically trained to alert the family when he is having a seizure. The specialized canine came with a $13,000 price tag that the Doeschers were able to pay thanks to several local fundraisers held earlier this year.

“The whole community has been wonderful,” Angela said.

To look at Stryder this past Thursday, enjoying his birthday presents and his card game, it would be hard to tell what he is going through every day. Yet, as his mother will tell you, that’s his typical demeanor.

“He is always happy,” she said. “He just never gets upset about things.”

On Tuesday, one day before his Nov. 27 birthday, Stryder will have even more to smile about. That day, he and his family leave behind all the stress and the struggles they routinely endure, and board a plane for a five-day, care-free, Disney-fueled excursion.

“We could never do this on our own,” Angela said. “This is a pretty big deal.”