BUFFALO, N.Y. - A local man, inspired by the story of a four-year-old with a prosthetic leg following his passion to play hockey, is riding his bicycle to raise awareness about families in similar situations.
We first introduced you to Ryder Kopacz a little more than a year ago. Ryder was born with a limb deficiency and has to use a prosthetic leg. Ryder is also a very active child, and a hockey fanatic. Ryder's parents, Tim and Mindy, wanted to give him every opportunity they could to follow his passion.
Unfortunately, a sport-specific prosthetic is very expensive and not covered by insurance.
After our story originally aired, an anonymous donor made arrangements to fly Ryder and his parents to a specialist in Chicago, where he would be outfitted with two new prosthetics, one for swimming and the other for skating and hockey.
Now the Kopacz family wants to help other families in similar situations. They have started a foundation called unLIMitedKids. Today their group got a major boost.
About six months ago, a 26-year-old Buffalo man named Matthew Schreiner called the Kopaczes offering to help them spread the word. So, inspired by Ryder, Matthew left this morning on an eight-day, 700-mile bike trek.
Schreiner left the First Niagara Center, where the Sabres were hosting the Carolina Hurricanes in their preseason opener. He is riding to Raleigh, North Carolina, planning to arrive when the Sabres play the Hurricanes in Raleigh on the 27th.
Along the way, Matthew will be raising money and doing interviews to raise awareness to the struggles of families with children who need prosthetics.
Matthew is wearing a specially made hockey jersey: half Buffalo, half Carolina. It is a fitting combination since Ryder's favorite hockey player, Nathan Gerbe, was released by the Sabres over the summer and signed with the Carolina Hurricanes. Matthew's jersey bears the number 42 in honor of Ryder's hockey hero.