Father, son team up to help achieve college dream


by KREM.com & Jane McCarthy


Posted on February 4, 2013 at 12:06 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 4 at 6:41 PM

SPOKANE -- A Whitworth student has to work harder than most students to reach his dreams, but his parents are willing to do just about anything to help him get there.

22-year-old Ryan Sutherland was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy when he was about four years old. The disease is gradually breaking down every muscle in Ryan’s body.

He is no longer able to walk, and he has limited use of his arms, but the disease never stripped away Ryan’s ambition.

Although he couldn’t walk, Ryan became a Boy Scout and he learned to play the trumpet.
When he reached the age many kids go to college, Ryan was determined to get a higher education.

For the first year and a half, Ryan attended Wenatchee Valley College with the help of his mom Debbie.

But Ryan wanted more; he wanted to live in the dorms.

He applied at Whitworth, and since 2009 he has shared a dorm room with his dad Steve who helps him with every day tasks.

Since Ryan can’t type a paper, a voice-activated computer allows him to lay out his thoughts.

Keeping his lungs working properly is an on-going concern, but Ryan doesn’t dwell on his problems. He knows the statistics are not good, but boys with D. Muscular Dystrophy are now living into his 30’s.

So Steve cherishes the time with his son, but also steps back, allowing Ryan to create his own college memories.

Ryan goes to classes by himself most of the time.

While he in class, Steve works remotely as a pharmacist. Every Friday, they drive home to Cashmere so Steve can work at Cascade General Hospital on the weekends.