After seeing a five-year-old boy in a wheelchair get wet while waiting for the school bus in the winter, some teenagers built him a shelter.
Ryder Killam, who is five years old, has had to fight rain, wind, and snow every day for about 15 minutes with only a patio umbrella to protect him.
But when Bradford, Rhode Island students heard about his problem, they got to work and built him a bus stop for the end of his driveway as part of their construction class.
Ryder’s dad, Tim, said, “Ryder uses it every day before school, and his nurses wait inside it every day until he gets home.
“He does like to hang out there sometimes as if it were his fort.
“This project brought our community closer together and showed that there is still a lot of good in this world and town!”
Ryder has never been able to walk because he was born with spina bifida myelomeningocele.
He said that when he was two years old, he used a wheelchair.
In June 2019, he started attending an inclusive preschool at Dunn’s Corner Elementary. Every day, his parents, Tim and Nikea, had to push him 75 feet to the end of the road so he could wait for his school bus.
Ryder couldn’t run for this bus like his friends could if he was late, so he often had to wait up to 15 minutes in whatever weather there was.
Tim put up a patio umbrella at the end of his driveway in September, right before Ryder started kindergarten. He did this to protect himself from the weather.
He said, “The problem is that with the wind and fall weather in New England, it didn’t do much unless it was a rainy day with no wind. Otherwise, he would still get wet and not stay warm.”
They decided to ask people in their community if they knew anything to keep Ryder safe from the weather.
Tim, who owns a marine electronics company, said, “I posted on Facebook to see if one of my friends or their friends might have an old bus hut.
“I see them here and there on people’s properties and thought that maybe someone had one, but their kids were grown and didn’t need it anymore.
“After the post, a WPS member suggested that I contact the Westerly High School construction class to see if they would be willing to build Ryder a bus stop hut.
Tim emailed Dan McKena, who had been teaching construction technology at Westerly High School for 27 years, asking if he would be interested in this project.
“He said, ‘Absolutely,’ and then he designed and built the hut with his students,” he said.
Three of Mr McKena’s classes worked hard on the project for a long time. They used YouTube to learn new skills as they built the structure and were motivated by the cause and the fact that it was going to snow soon.
Home Depot gave the project about $300 worth of wood, but the Kilmans paid $600 for the rest of the materials. They were kept up to date with photos the whole time.
The 5×8-foot hut was built so Ryder, one of his parents, or a nurse could fit inside comfortably. It was finally brought to the house on November 2, six weeks after it was built.
Tim said, “We were shocked. It was much bigger than we thought it would be, giving Ryder and an adult easy access to be with him.”
“Ryder’s first reaction was ‘, Holy Cow!’ He loves it and wants to always hang out in it.”
The family sent the teens a picture of Ryder at the bus stop and thanked them for all their hard work. We’re sure it made them happy to see how their project has helped others.