MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Riley has already battled brain cancer, but it is his latest fight that his family says is nothing short of a miracle.
We first met his mom in January, when Riley was in a coma after suffering a stroke. Doctors said at the time he was “locked in,” and would never wake up, move or talk again.
But his family knew Riley would never give up, so they did not give up on him.
“Riley is doing wonderful,” Tara Frandesen-Valerius, Riley’s mom, said. “He is, he’s doing great.”
It was just a few months ago when doctors told Riley’s family he would not survive.
“He was a walking, talking 16-year-old boy,” she said.
But a devastating stroke left Riley in a coma, and doctors with very little hope.
“They gave us the option to pull the plug, but we knew Riley wasn’t that kind of a person,” Tara said.
She had already watched her son beat brain cancer when he was 7 years old.
“He went through cancer once and fought through that so hard,” Tara said.
This fight would be even harder. Doctors said Riley would not wake up, and if he did he would never move or talk again.
But Tara began seeing things the doctors did not.
“He was squeezing our hands and the doctors would say, ‘Are you sure he’s squeezing your hand?'” Tara said. “It was our whole family, we knew.”
Against the odds, Riley did wake up. And just a few months later, he was asking his childhood friend to prom.
“To get out all those words was amazing to hear,” Tara said. “Bella was crying and all of us were crying.”
The day after Riley got out of the hospital, he took Bella to prom, sporting a Superman shirt under his tux. Tara says it was the perfect way to welcome him home.
Riley remembers his time in a coma as “dreams.”
“We used to sing a lot to him,” Tara said.
Tara learned just recently that he has some very specific memories.
“There was a certain song we would sing,” she said.
Riley remembers his mom singing him the Five For Fighting song “Superman” while he was unconscious in the hospital.
“I didn’t know that, you remember it?” Tara said. “We’re going to have to talk about that later.”
Tara said she is learning more every day about what Riley remembers from his coma.
Riley’s bedroom used to be on the second floor, so they are renovating their home in Big Lake.
To help pay for the renovations, they are holding a benefit Saturday, June 4 at McPete’s Sports Bar in Big Lake.