Ryland Ward lost his stepmother, step-sister and half-sister in the Nov. 5 church shooting that killed 26 and injured 20

By Karen Mizoguchi
December 07, 2017 08:11 PM

Ryland Ward, the 5-year-old survivor who lost his stepmother and two sisters in the Sutherland Springs shooting, will be spending the holidays in the hospital this year as he continues to recover from his five gunshot wounds.

The Texas boy’s grandmother, Sandy Ward, is asking their community to send Christmas cards to Ryland to keep him in a joyful spirit after she saw her grandson’s face light up when he was recently surprised with a holiday delivery, according to multiple local news outlets.

“They still haven’t told [Ryland] yet that his mom and sisters are dead, but I’m sure he’s kind of getting some kind of idea because he’s 5,” Sandy told ABC affiliate KSAT on Tuesday.

Ryland’s stepmother, Joann, and her daughters, Brooke Ward, 5, and 7-year-old Emily Garza, were killed in the Nov. 5 attack, the state’s deadliest mass shooting in modern history.

Ryland continues to receive medical treatments after he was shot once in the elbow, twice in the stomach and twice in the leg by a gunman who opened fire at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, where his family members were regular parishioners.

Gary Zwicke

On Tuesday, the child’s family shared a health update on the child’s GoFundMe page.

“Ryland’s surgery today to put a stint in his kidney was a success. If it holds, it will remain in place 6 weeks. Please pray it holds and that he will not lose a kidney. This young warrior has many battles to overcome,” the statement read.

However, his injuries remain in severe condition.

“Ryland’s femur bone is still separated and he will be in a wheel chair or wagon for months for mobility,” a statement earlier this month described. “Tummy has not healed … His hip and leg will still need additional surgeries and require screws, pins, plates and rods. He will remain in ICU until some of the tubes are removed.”

Ryland’s eldest sister Rianna, 9, who was also at the church during the attack, had a bullet graze off her glasses but survived the shooting, according to their great-uncle, Gary Zwicke, who previously spoke with PEOPLE about the horrific tragedy.

Mail cards to:
Ryland Ward
P.O. Box 174, Sutherland Springs, Texas, 78161