Rio Fowler’s life was so brief that it left a bigger impact than most people’s lives.
Given that he lived for only 17 months, Rio Fowler has left behind a legacy larger than his entire existence.
The brilliant kid with an infectious grin was hospitalized in November 2017 because of a stomach ailment, according to reports.
He sadly passed away from terminal heart condition.
“Rio went into hospital for gastro and never came home,” the toddler’s father Ryan tells 7Life,adding, “You shouldn’t outlive your kids.”
Ryan and Karen were devastated when their son died, yet they decided to carry on his legacy by using the funds to establish a charity in his name.
The parents formed the charity Rio’s Legacy, which has raised more than $600,000 since their son’s death in January 2018.
Every penny has gone to hospitals and children’s hospices across the country, according to Karen and Ryan.
A new pediatric hospice will be built in Western Australia, the state’s first, with some of the money.
“Time is precious,” Ryan says, remembering his son’s love of dancing and chocolate.
“Even though these kids are only here for a short time, they are all wonderfully made and deserve to live the rest of their life smiling.”
“He wasn’t sick beforehand,” Ryan says of Rio’s shock journey.
“It just hit us like a tidal wave.”
On November 3, Rio’s big sister Remi, then four, returned from school with gastritis.
The illness quickly spread through the household and little Rio was severely affected.
The bug quickly seized hold of the 15-month-old boy and his family spent the next several days traveling to and from the hospital.
“He couldn’t stomach food. He didn’t eat for three weeks, but he always smiled,” Ryan says.
After months of searching and hoping, the family was finally given a devastating answer just before Christmas.
Rio had a rare and incurable heart condition, and doctors informed Karen and Ryan that there was nothing more they could do.
Little Rio was laid to rest on January 15, 2018.
The family continues to raise funds for much-needed pediatric hospices, with a goal of establishing a new facility in Western Sydney that can help serve regional NSW communities.
For the first time this year, the charity will be involved in City2Surf, which will take place on August 14.