CLEVELAND (WJW) -- It had been a few years since Tyson Stiles spent any significant amount of time at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
His son, Ryver, spent the first 297 days of his life in the NICU. He was born at just 23 weeks and weighed just over a pound.
For almost a full year, Stiles and Ryver’s mom, Melissa, sat bedside as their little boy fought to survive. He was hooked up to countless machines and stared at the same four walls day in and day out.
It was clear from the start that Ryver enjoyed music. A music therapist from UH Connor Integrative Health Network often performed for patients.
“Having music therapy in Ryver’s room was a huge part of his turning point,” said Stiles.
Ryver comes by it honestly. Tyson is a musician himself and performs with a local band. So naturally, on many days, he’d grab his guitar and play for his son.
“I know hearing that music, hearing his dad’s voice - that helped him. Also his mom, Melissa, is an incredible artist. She would paint these beautiful paintings at his bedside. I have no doubt the music and art therapy helped him hang on,” he said.
Christmas 2016 was tough. Ryver was in the thick of his fight, and the family spent their holiday in the hospital.
Fast forward to Christmas 2019 and Ryver is home and thriving. Doctors removed his tracheostomy tube this past summer. He still has a gastrostomy tube which delivers nutrients to his stomach but thanks to feeding therapy, he’s on his way to eating independently. That's why Stiles felt the need to give back.
Friday afternoon, Stiles once again grabbed his guitar and headed to Rainbow. Only this time, he was performing for a much larger crowd.
The hospital atrium that was once the spot he'd sit as a worried parent is now his stage, as he played music for other families sitting in the same spot his family sat just three years ago.
Stiles performed Christmas music and some original songs for the same "Healing Harmony" program that helped his son. For Stiles, it was a full-circle moment.
"I look at [Ryver] as a beacon of light or hope and I want to give back. I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for this place. They've done so much for my son," Stiles said. "I do think music has a healing power. I can't imagine a life without it."