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Sharing Light in the Darkness: Ryker’s Rainbow Supports Bereaved Families

Sharing Light in the Darkness: Ryker’s Rainbow Supports Bereaved Families

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From devastating loss and the darkest point of their lives, the Schoff family formed Ryker’s Rainbow to bring light to families walking through similar situations. At the heart of what they do, Ryker’s Rainbow wants other bereaved families to know that they are not alone and that their child matters.

The Schoff Family Story

The Schoff family started Ryker’s Rainbow to help other grieving families.

Ryker’s Rainbow of course begins with Ryker. After having their daughter, Ellis, in 2018 Hans and Lacey Schoff decided to grow their family of three to a family of four. Despite being difficult in terms of sickness, Lacey’s pregnancy with Ryker was a healthy one without major complications.

“It was a difficult pregnancy in general, but a healthy one. There were never any issues or never any reasons for concern, or to be alerted for anything, it was never a high risk pregnancy,” Lacey said.

At 37 weeks, Lacey went in for a routine appointment and scan. She said she can vividly remember leaving work and telling a coworker that she’d be back soon with pictures.

“The ultrasound tech asked me if I had any concerns and I said I have not been feeling him as much the past few days, because he is normally pretty active. I had expressed that concern to my husband and he had put his hand on my stomach and we convinced ourselves that we were feeling him. Even with Ellis, towards the end we weren’t feeling her as much, so we were comparing it to that. So during the ultrasound the ultrasound tech left the room, and that’s when I knew something was going on,” Lacey said.

The tech came back with the midwife since Lacey’s OB was currently out of town. Because it was in the height of COVID-19, Hans had not been able to come to the appointment, and the midwife asked Lacey to call him in. Knowing something was wrong, Lacey asked to go ahead and hear the news and was told that they could not detect a heartbeat for their baby boy.

“Ryker had passed and it was just hard to believe it. So I kind of asked what they could do, not fully understanding the situation. I called Hans and he hurried over there. I had to tell him on the phone just straight up. I had to say it a number of times, because he just couldn’t understand it. In fact, he was on some heavy machinery when he finally grasped it and he ran through our fence on accident. He hopped off and came there to the clinic and we had to decide at that time if we wanted to go deliver that day or if we wanted to wait,” Lacey said.

Lacey and her doctor shared a special connection throughout her pregnancy with both Ellis and Ryker, and because of that and wanting more time with their son, the Schoffs decided to be scheduled to be induced later in the week.


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“We decided to wait because I wanted more time with him. I read to him every night and I prayed with him and I sang to him. So I wanted to do all these things a couple more times. Also my OB was out of town and she is amazing. She is just an incredible doctor and we just had a special connection, and I just wanted her to be the one to deliver Ryker. I knew I was going to be in a tizzy and she was the only one that could calm me. I didn’t want someone I didn’t know delivering him. His delivery and birth became very sacred to me and to him and to Hans,” Lacey said.

Lacey cradles Ryker and reads to him.

Lacey’s doctor booked an emergency flight home in the middle of the global pandemic, getting stuck at the Atlanta airport and having her husband drive to come get her in the middle of the night when no rental cars were available.

“She was just incredible, committed to me and Hans and Ryker. So when I woke up the next morning, she was the one to wake me up, and I knew it was time,” Lacey said.

Upon delivery, it was determined that Ryker had passed due to a blood clot in the umbilical cord. In the days following Ryker’s birth, Lacey said the family received tremendous support as they prepared to say goodbye, and that their faith was their cornerstone.

“We had a ton of support from our friends, family, and even strangers. Even in the ultimate time of darkness and the hardest time of our lives, we felt incredibly blessed by others and what people were doing for us,” Lacey said.

Hans cradles Ryker on the day he was born.

Ryker’s Rainbow is Created

When Lacey and Hans left the hospital they were given a box. But, unlike the box that families typically receive when discharging from the hospital, it contained a large book on grief and a few other mementos.

“I left the hospital and I was given a box, and I knew what was supposed to be in that box, because I had had Ellis, a healthy baby. Inside was this nice book, but it was a large chapter book on grief. I remember getting really upset and telling my mom does anyone really think I am going to be able to read this?” Lacey said.

Later Lacey’s mom gave her a more manageable book titled Mommy Please Don’t Cry:┬áThere are No Tears in Heaven, a short, faith-based book. Although Lacey and Hans had not planned Ryker’s Rainbow yet, the book would prove to play an instrumental part in its formation.

“It took me several days to even read that one, but once I finished it I looked at Hans and said ‘we have to get this to the hospital. We need other moms and dads and families who have experienced loss like ours to have this book.’ So I called the hospital,” Lacey said.

Ryker’s Rainbow started with the idea of donating a book for bereaved families.

After a quick conversation about how many books the hospital would need and the logistics of getting them there, Lacey and Hans still didn’t have concrete plans for Ryker’s Rainbow until her birthday rolled around and she received a reminder from Facebook to create a birthday fundraiser.

The Schoffs had originally planned not to share photos of Ryker, but when Lacey was playing around with creating a fundraiser for the books she accidentally posted it with a photo of her son’s feet. After a quick discussion they decided to see what would happen.

“Within minutes the donations started rolling in and I was so humbled, I still am. We got $13,000 in donations on Facebook and $1,000 just from people mailing us donations. We prayed over that and thought about that. Obviously that’s a lot of money for books. Hans was like I know where this is going, but I was more resistant, thinking I can’t do this, I am not strong enough. We decided we wanted a partnership with the hospital, so we created Ryker’s Rainbow Memorial Fund. The plan was just to do books, but the books have turned into memory plates and now we do gift boxes,” Lacey said.

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“A lot of people ask me why we named it Ryker’s Rainbow. Obviously Ryker from his name and then rainbow because we wanted it to be something that represented light. Talking about the death of a baby or child is a heavy subject. It is the darkest time in a family’s life and so we wanted something to be indicative of hope and light and rainbows are that. Rainbows are signs of God’s eternal promise to us. Our mission is simply to be the light and we want to give hope and light to families.”

In addition to helping countless families in their time of need, Ryker’s Rainbow has also helped the Schoffs in their own grief.


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“It has been a unique way for Hans and I to navigate through grief as well. When you lose a child that you never got to spend time on this earth with, it’s hard. You naturally try to imagine what they would be like and what they would be doing now. It has given us a lot of opportunities to be proud of him, just to see the way that he has been able to impact others. We have seen so much goodness and love through all of this. It’s been surreal to see it all come together and how people rally behind a cause and just the community of it,” Lacey said.

Get Involved with Ryker’s Rainbow

Volunteer

Lacey said that Ryker’s Rainbow is always in need of volunteers to help assemble bereavement boxes. Around the holidays, they will also need help with their Tinsel Trail tree and as the pandemic eases, they have plans for additional events that will need volunteers. The Ryker’s Rainbow Facebook page is the best place to stay updated on volunteer opportunities.

Donations

Donations help fund the bereavement boxes that Ryker’s Rainbow provides to local hospitals and to families in need outside the hospitals. You can donate here.

Contact
Phone – 256-269-2880
Email – rykers.rainbow@gmail.com
Website | Facebook | Instagram

“I know its Ryker’s work and I know it’s God’s work. It’s truly an honor to serve other families in their darkest times. This is a sacred time, and to be a tiny part of their story is an honor.” – Lacey Schoff

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