Tempe officers rally to support detective with special needs children

Posted at 6:55 PM, Dec 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-29 08:35:22-05

It's a family of 15: Tempe Police Detective Nathan Ryberg, his wife Lori, and 13 children -- seven of whom are adopted. 

All seven of them also have special medical needs. Three of them have Spina Bifida, three have Down Syndrome, one has Cerebral Palsy. An eighth child was born 24 weeks early.

The Ryberg's opened up their hearts and homes to foster children after having been raised around foster siblings themselves.

Nathan Ryberg says the need for foster homes is high, but they "don't even put a dent in it." 

There's never a dull moment in the Ryberg household, however, with all the blessings also come challenges.

Transporting more than a dozen kids isn't easy, and the Rybergs have already put in 200,000 miles on the family minivan. They had two vans die on them, and one was stolen. Their most recent van was not large enough to carry the whole family, and all of the wheelchairs needed for some of their children. Ryberg had to physically carry his 19-year old daughter Faith, who has Spina Bifida, into the minivan.

"Some families that have special needs kids don't go out at all, we're not like that," Nathan's wife, Lori Ryberg, said.

The family is very active — taking kids to sporting events, swim meets, and wheelchair races, among other things. Ryberg said he hopes for a small bus with a ramp that could carry three wheelchairs.

Several Tempe police officers and detectives have organized fundraisers and set up a GoFundMe page to help Ryberg raise money for a new mode of transportation with wheelchair ramps. If you would like to help, please click here