Welcome

The family and friends of Cpl. Daniel C. W. Riley, USMC, welcome you to join in as we celebrate and support the life of an incredible young man, friend, son, and brother. It is with great love and with many prayers we know that Daniel will move on to great and wonderful things. God has big plans for him! Daniel was born in Victoria, BC, Canada. In 1999 his family (Dad, Mum, brothers Tristan and Aaron, & sister Elizabeth, & cat) moved to Denver, Colorado, where his dad began working for the Episcopal Church in Colorado overseeing work with children, youth, and young adults. Daniel started high school in 1999 at Columbine High School. After three years at CHS he finished his high school at Brentwood College in Canada in 2004. After which he did some college and worked in the US and Canada. Daniel enlisted (still a Canadian citizen) in US Marine Corps in 2008 to serve his new country and to help pay for a future college education. On July 4, 2009 Daniel swore in as a US citizen before the Vice-President in Sadam Hussein's old palace in Bagdad, Iraq. In September 2010 he was sent as a combat replacement for the 2/6 Marines in Marjah, Afghanistan. On December 16, 2010, Daniel was severely wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). He primarily suffered severe wounds to his legs, left arm, and left lung. There were many times he was close to not making it. He has since had both legs amputated above the knee and three fingers amputated on his left hand. His lung and other injuries are healing well. Before this event and for many years to come, we know Daniel to be a loving, caring, intellegent, humourous, giving, adventurous, and deep thinking person. Keep praying! And use this blog to share your thoughts and encouragement.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

9 News

Daniel was interviewed today by a 9 News reporter, Cheryl Preheim.  He was great and spoke very well.  The interview should air on 9 News Denver tomorrow night (Friday, May 27th) at 9:00 and 10:00 as a Memorial Day special report.  Set those DVRs.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back on my feet again!

May 17, 2011 was a HUGE day in Daniel's recovery.  He was back up and walking for the first time since December 16th!  He is now beginning his rehabilitation using his C-legs (computerized legs).

Enough said, here is the video ....



Postscript ... Daniel progressed so well on his first day with these legs they are calling him the new "benchmark."  After many laps back and forth along the bars someone said, "Wow, he's ready to do this with canes."  Another staff member replied, "No one has ever done that on their first time up."  Of course, Daniel heard this and responded, "Get me some canes!" and became the first to ever get up on their C-legs for the first time and walk with just the canes!!  More of this attitude to come.

Daniel's new apartment (May 6, 2011)

On May 6th Daniel began a huge step towards independence and to a "normal" life.  He was handed his keys to his first apartment. 
Daniel receiving keys from Cpt. Fred Gorris (USN. ret), head of VHI

It is in a wonderful apartment complex in the Rancho San Diego area (near El Cajon, CA).  It has many services, stores, and a Starbucks within wheelchair distance and is only a 20-25 minute drive from the hospital.  Through some generous people and Veterans Housing Initiative (VHI) he was given the opportunity to get a one-bedroom apartment and a hugely reduced rate.   VHI also completely furnished it and made sure he had all the supplies the needed - especially in the kitchen where Daniel loves to spend time cooking.
"Hmmm... what to grand cuisine should I make first?
Miso-glazed sea bass and asparagus or ramen noodles?"

It affords him enough room to be on his own and be comfortable (and for dad to have a closet and a sleeper-sofa).  Daniel is very thankful to be out of the hospital barracks (where no one gets healthy again!).

Dad's closet (it took his inner "McGyver" to make it work)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Riley Family Relocating

Dear family and friends,

After a great deal of personal and family reflection (and prayer) Julia and I have discerned that the best thing for Daniel and our family is to relocate to the San Diego area.  This is not something we do lightly or without a measure of sadness.  We made a covenant (a promise) to our children when each were born; that we would do all that we can to support and encourage them - no matter what happens.  This relocation is part of living out the covenant we have made with our children.

We have made the decision for a number of reasons:

(1) Daniel will need support and encouragement for many months to come.  He is likely to be at the Naval Medical Center San Diego until the Summer of 2012.  We go primarily to be there for him.  In the near term he will need help driving him places and some assistance with daily living.  Longer term we will be available for occasional assistance and other encouragement as needed.

(2) We have also found that we have reached the end of our ability to function as a family and be separated.  This "family-via-long-distance thing" has grown old and hard to keep doing.  I have been the sole caregiver for five months without a break.  We want to share the honour of helping out our wounded warrior.

(3) We have also reached a point in our financial situation that demands a change.  I have been without pay since January (my employer, The Bishop and Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, has graciously allowed me unpaid leave until August 1st and has covered our medical insurance during that time). Due to an injury and subsequent surgery to Julia's Achilles tendon she has lost her job at Jefferson County School District working in a school cafeteria.  Up until now we have been able to hold off bankruptcy and due to the generosity of some of our creditors (especially US Bank and Chase/JP Morgan) we should continue to avoid filing.  But, we are now at a place where we cannot continue paying our mortgage. It would not feel right to us to keep living in the place and not paying our obligations.  We will be losing our home.  Therefore, we have put our house up for sale and hope that we get enough to cover the remaining mortgage or we will attempt a "short sale."  Please pray for a buyer! Quickly!

A few other notes:
  • I have communicated briefly with Bishop O'Neill that I will not be returning to my ministry with the people of the Diocese of Colorado and Cathedral Ridge.  After almost 12 years, this was a hard thing to do!   I will miss being part of the exciting future of Cathedral Ridge.
  • Daniel and I will be in Colorado until the Danielathlon (June 4th) and then over the next couple weeks we will get our belongings to San Diego and into storage.  We hope to be all there by Tristan's graduation from marine boot camp (June 16-17).
  • We will be having a BIG garage sale on June 10th and 11th.
  • Due to the gracious financial support of so many we have enough funds to cover the move via U-Haul, rent, and living expenses until the end of the summer. We want to give a special thank you to The Rev. Brooks Keith and the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Vail, who have pulled together people and resources to assist Daniel and our family.  We are also very thankful for the support of our immediate and distant family members. In the meantime, Julia and I will both begin looking for work that helps us cover our expenses and also make sure we are available as needed for Daniel.
  • We have secured a one-bedroom apartment for Julia and I in the same complex as Daniel's new apartment.  Aaron will come with us for the summer and try and find work.  He will live with Daniel  during that time.  Aaron has been accepted, and hopes, to attend the University of Colorado, Boulder, in the Fall.
We really wish we could have told everyone personally.  Unfortunately, this is all moving fast (our house will be up on the market tomorrow) and we need to get things rolling.  We will truly miss living here in Colorado and the dear friends who we have been privileged to get to know over the past 12 years.  We do not know what the future holds.  We are just travelling the path that seems best to us and allows us to be faithful to what we believe is right for us. We rest in God's hands. We ask for your prayers.

in Christ,
Neil Riley

Leave

Daniel will be enjoying two-weeks of leave back in Colorado.  He arrived Saturday and will be there until June 5th.  It will be a busy couple weeks including all the graduation festivities around his youngest brother's high school graduation, an interview for TV news, hanging out at Barnes and Nobles, and the Danielathlon on June 4th.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Danielathlon

Hey everyone. Some good friends of Daniel are setting up a family day of fun and games in celebration and support of Daniel. Those on Facebook can find It under "Danielathlon". It is planned for June 4th at a park in the Littleton area. Stay tuned for details either on Facebook or on this blog.

We look forward to seeing you all.  :)

........  Caitlin said...
Thanks to Daniel and the family for letting me get this crazy idea off the ground!

The 1st annual Danielathlon will be June 4 at Dekoevend Park in Littleton from 11-2. It's called the Danielathlon because it's going to be ten events and games like a triathlon but kicked up a notch! We're going to have soccer goal shoot outs, lawn bowling, shoe kick, water balloons and other awesome competitions- with a prize for the winner of each of course!

The event will be free to attend but donations will be heavily emphasized. We will also be selling hand screen pressed t-shirts, food and having a raffle for some wonderful door prizes.

Please visit facebook.com/danielathlon for more info. We're working on getting a website up and running to be able to register and should have a logo and printed materials in the next two weeks.

I know all of you love Daniel as much as I do so if you are in the Denver area, please come out and show your support. And pass it on to everyone you know!

Caitlin

Thursday, May 19, 2011

#22 Went Better than Expected

Yesterday's surgery went much better than expected. After a quick time in recovery Daniel was up and ready to get out of the hospital and head to his apartment. In fact, he was in a pretty big hurry to get out of there. At first I was wondering, why the urgency. Was he sick of hospitals? Was it the food? Was he tired or hurting? Nope, none of the above. The Vancouver Canuck's playoff hockey game was starting soon. He was lounging at the apartment watching the game with a drink, a salad and a pizza pocket before the first period had competed 5 minutes.

Surgery #22 complete and he is hoping not to have any more. So, one wonders, do these guys get some kind of frequent flyer points for these surgeries? How about one free after each ten surgeries? Or maybe a parting gift after every five? How about an all-expenses paid cruise for four people after you reach 20? Or how about one dollar's worth of travel on Expedia for every stitch? I'm just saying .....

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Surgery #22

Well it came as a surprise and a disappointment. Daniel has had to go back into surgery to follow up on some work that was done in surgery #21 (May 2nd). He has gone in today and will go home tonight. It was a real blow to Daniel when he was told this on Monday. But, we are now getting used to the ups and downs.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Finally, some food

Daniel is finally allowed to have some real food (granted, that which is offered by The Rice King can hardly be called "food"). Here he is released for a while off the ward to eat and watch the Canucks game.

No. Really?!?

Yesterday I spent the day cleaning, painting, and helping to prepare Daniel's new apartment. Late that evening, when returning back to the barracks, I texted Daniel to see if he was up for a visit or whether he wanted me to drop by in the morning instead. Daniel was tired and said the next day would be fine.
Julia then said, "Hey, this will be the first day you have not seen Daniel since December 24th".
I replied, "No. Really?!?". Then I thought about it and "Yes, really".
Not too sure what to make of that!

Dad

New Address

Daniel's new address will be:

Daniel Riley
1004 - 2452 Hilton Head Place
El Cajon, CA,
92019

Feeling just plain old miserable

Daniel's surgeries on Monday went well. The colostomy reversal went smoothly and all his pipes have been cleaned out and put back together again. The other procedures took longer than expected, but, turned out better than hoped.

However, he still feels miserable. He went without eating or drinking (even water) from Sunday night until Wednesday. The medical staff finally gave him some juice and chicken broth. He was unable to keep it down. He is trying to have some again today. Needless to say he is very tired and weak and feeling yucky! He still hurts as well and the tv in his room doesn't have the channel with the NHL playoffs. On the bright side, he did get a "Super Patient" sticker from the nurses. We hope he will be discharged soon.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A few changes coming this week.

Today Daniel goes into the hospital to prepare for his surgeries.  After they have been completed and he has healed a bit he will be able to start doing so much more! Regular showers and/or baths, swimming, more and better core exercises, wearing his preferred t-shirts, and a whole lot more.

After he gets out (likely late in the week) he will be moving to his new apartment.  Through the generosity of Capt. Fred Gorris (USN-ret) and the organization he heads up, Veterans Housing Initiative, Daniel has been set up with a nice one-bedroom apartment only a 15-20 minute drive from the hospital.  They have secured the unit for him at a very low cost for up to two years, are helping to furnish it, and offer other support to assist in his healing.  It is near shopping, theaters, Starbucks, grocery stores, etc. (Alas, no bookstore nearby).  This a wonderful opportunity to get back into "normal" life and to get out of the barracks.  The barracks at the hospital are not a place to get healthy.  They are conveniently close to his appointments - but that's all!

I will be staying on his couch and helping out as necessary.  That will involve lots of driving until he gets his car adapted and he has taken the adapted driving training.  Julia is coming out to San Diego today for a few days to see Daniel and help set up his new place - no doubt, adding a mother's touch.

Dad