LOS ANGELES (KCAL 9) — A Southland boy is battling a debilitating disease with a fighting spirit.
At the age of three, Skyers Ruplinger was diagnosed with Type 2 Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) after countless doctors’ visits and tests.
SMA is a muscle wasting disease that usually prevents children with it from walking. Despite this, happy is a good way to describe Skyers.
“When you first read about the diagnosis, it puts a timeline on your baby,” Ladette Ruplingher, Skyers’ mother, said.
As a single mother of two, this hasn’t been easy on Ladette, but she finds strength through a support system, family, friends and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“MDA, we got him to summer camp this year and he had the best time,” Ladette added.
“I did crafts, fishing, ziplining,” Skyers said.
The MDA also connected Ladette with resources, counselors and the organizations that pay for his wheelchairs, which he has named Spencer and Thomas.
These chairs are Skyers’ legs… what help him be independent. He’s never been able to stand or support his weight without help.
“You know, my neck gets tired from holding itself up,” Skyers said.
Ladette was told her son would spend most of his time in a wheelchair. To get him to walk with braces and a walker would be a massive undertaking, but she wasn’t giving up and two years ago, she began a vigorous training program for him.
“My agenda is to keep that little body strong and healthy,” Ladette said.
And it’s working.
Ladette believes with research, there is so much hope.
“All these new developments are right around the corner. We have to keep our babies strong so that when they do come in, they’re healthy enough to use them,” Ladette said.
Skyers has amazed his doctors and his family, but not a day goes by when they don’t realize what they are up against. Still, even at the young age of 7, Skyers isn’t focused on what he can’t do, but what he can and may even be able to do in the future.
The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon is an annual tradition here on KCAL 9. You can help by making a donation during the telethon, which starts at 6PM Sunday and runs until 5PM Monday.
Skyers’ mom has also set up The Skyers Foundation to help bring free pediatric physical training programs to children, many with types of muscular dystrophy like Skyers.