GoFundMe started by a stranger helps after unexpected death of toddler

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CENTRALIA – A perfect stranger started a GoFundMe to raise money for the Bowne family who lost their two-year-old son, Ryker, in August. Ryan Bowne, Ryker’s father is originally from Centralia. He and his wife, Tara, and their sons, Parker and Ryker, live in Omaha, Nebraska.

Ryker died unexpectedly in August. The two-year-old was found unresponsive in his bed.

Tara and Ryan were planning to go on a cruise to celebrate their anniversary before Ryker’s untimely death. In the months since losing Ryker though, the couple decided to sell their cruise package to use the money for other expenses.

That’s when Rachel Newham comes in.

“The heartbreak of a family I’ve never met has touched my heart and I felt compelled to try and help them in some small way,” she said.

Newham lives in Tucson, Arizona, but she started a GoFundMe page to help the Bownes so they can still go on their cruise.

Tara said the support from all across the country is humbling, and that it perfectly aligns with who Ryker was.

"If he was still here, he would change the world," she said. "So, now that he’s gone, it still brings a lot of hope that he can still do that somehow.”

Through their grief about their son’s death, Tara and Ryan received some very good news. Tara is 12 weeks pregnant. She posted a video on Facebook where she tells her son, Parker, he will soon have a new sibling.

“Thank you Ryker. I’m going to have a new playmate,” Parker said. “I’m going to be happy again.”

Tara said her pregnancy came as a surprise. 

"I was in shock. I didn’t believe it," she said. "With Ryker, we had to go through a lot of work to get him so for this to just happen it was such a gift." 

Parker has taken the death of his brother very hard. Tara was nervous to tell him about her pregnancy, but said Parker now feels a purpose he hasn't felt since Ryker died. 

"This is perfect. This is how it’s supposed to be. It’s okay to be excited and we can feel a little hope now," Tara said. 

Ryker's grandmother, Terri Black, said it's been difficult to deal with the grief of losing her grandchild while balancing the grief she feels for her daughter and her grandson. 

"You never know how you're going to react," Black said. "You hear it said, I’ve said it a thousand times, 'I don’t know what I would ever do', but you don’t know what you’ll do.”

Black, who was called "Mimi" by Ryker, said she hopes Ryker's legacy will inspire others. 

"He was just as sweet as he could be, and we don't understand why he's gone," Black said. "We miss him every single day."