Community rallying to support a little Rossland ripper

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
December 1st, 2010

We’re lucky in Rossland to enjoy wonderful lifestyles often centered around our recreational activities of choice in a beautiful location. Sometimes, however, unforeseen health troubles can stop us in our tracks. Luckily residents of the Golden City have a habit of rallying around those in need. Whether it’s a hand pulling a friend up from a crash on the ski hill or a hand given to those that have suffered the effects of untimely health issues, Rossland is a city that gives back to its own.

This Friday, December 3rd, The Flying Steamshovel and Ross Vegas are teaming up to help support a long time local family and their son. A gifted young athlete, Raven Romaniuk has been dealt a setback in the form of epilepsy that has taken him away from the town and sports he loves over the last five years.   Bill Romaniuk, Raven’s father, first moved to Rossland in the early 1980s. Shortly after Raven was born in 1995 the family moved to Argenta at the north end of Kootenay Lake for a few years. Rossland’s lure and sense of community had pulled them back by 2002, however, just as Raven was flourishing in the action sports scene.   Widely regarded among his peers as one of the best young snowboarders, BMX riders and skateboarders in town, Raven could regularly be found hanging out at Ross Vegas, picking up the latest gear and talking shop with the other little rippers in town.   By the time he had turned ten, he started having his first epileptic seizures seemingly out of the blue. While manageable at first and only occurring every few months, Raven’s condition continued to worsen.   With trips to the Children’s Hospital increasing in frequency, three years ago Raven and his family made the decision for him to move away from the town he loves to be closer to the hospital. Raven now lives with his mother in Victoria with his father close at hand swapping off care.   “He’s a really bright kid, really positive and the development in his life has basically been stalled for the last several years,” explained his father Bill. “He’s supposed to be having fun, and chasing girls at this stage and fun stuff like that. All of that has been put on hold.”  Six weeks ago Raven’s condition worsened and became critical to the point of having non-stop seizures for a 72 hour period and over 1,000 seizures a day. Shortly thereafter Raven made the brave decision to move forward with an exploratory brain surgery that he’ll be going in for on December 14th.   The surgery will involve removing the upper half of Raven’s cranium, attaching electrodes across the surface of his brain, reattaching the skull and hooking up the series of wires to measure and map the activity of his brain. They will then perform various motor and verbal skills over the course of two weeks, mapping the brain’s activity. The plan is to identify and localize the point or points of the brain from which the epileptic activity is emanating so that they can then remove those sections, eliminating the seizure activity.   The good news is that at his age the brain is still malleable and growing and able to heal and repair itself fairly readily.   Needless to say, the past five years have been increasingly difficult on the family as they do everything they can to support their son. Bill has left his job in Calgary to be by his son’s side swapping care with Raven’s mother as someone is needed at his side at all times.   Raven’s effect on the local action spots community hasn’t gone unnoticed and between his father, Ross Vegas and The Flying Steamshovel a fundraising event has been organized for this Friday, December 3rd at the Steamshovel. Tickets are available now at Ross Vegas for $15 and include a beer, burger and fries. Various movie clips of Raven in action will be shown on the big screen as well as a performance by Sunshine Drive.   “He’s such a talented athlete,” noted Pete Gearin of Ross Vegas.” He’s been hanging out in and around our shop for years and now that he’s been held back in life for the last four years or so we wanted to return the favour and show our support for him and his family.”   Not unaccustomed to facing and tackling big challenges on the mountain, dirt ramps or street Raven is staying strong and looking forward to returning to his life in Rossland and flying high once again.   “He was a little scared about the idea of the surgery at first but it was his idea in the end,” added Bill. “His spirits are up as much as they can be at this stage and he’s looking forward to getting back on his bike, back on his snowboard and moving back to Rossland.”

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