ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A 14-year-old boy with stage 4 cancer and his parents gathered at sheriff’s and police headquarters Tuesday afternoon to thank two law enforcement officers for their support.
In August, Riley Rutledge was diagnosed with gioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor. He’s undergone one surgery to remove parts of the tumor, four life-saving surgeries due to complications and is taking radiation therapy, said his mom, Catherine Rutledge. Riley’s gotten support through his treatment from Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy Wesley Buster, his former youth football coach, and from APD officer Deanne Rush, whose son used to play football with Riley.
“Very special,” Riley managed to say to reporters about the event. Catherine said her son has lost most of his verbal skills and can’t move his right side because of brain surgery. He made it through just two weeks of his freshman year at Sandia High School last fall.
Catherine and her husband, Ron Rutledge, said Buster and Rush have made several trips to the hospital and the Rutledges’ home to spend time with their son in recent months. And Buster has helped raise money for the family by doing fundraisers for Riley.
“It’s been an absolute godsend to have friends like (Buster) and (Rush),” Catherine said.
Rush said it’s been difficult for her son and Riley’s friends to see the once healthy teenager change over the last few months.
“You see them healthy and active in sports and then to see them face this is just devastating,” Rush said.
Sheriff Manuel Gonzales gave Riley a plaque and Gonzales and Buster encouraged the community to support Riley as much as possible.