Montana Treasure: #TroyStrong

From the outside looking in, Troy Ross is just a normal five year old. He likes to dance, play with his favorite toys, and of course, annoy his older sister Kennedy.

But Troy is fighting an internal battle every single day.

"He was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder in September of 2017," said his father, Wes Ross. "He was one of 8 diagnosed surviving cases in the United States. There's less than a dozen kids who have contracted this."

It's called pulmonary capillaritis.

"Troy's immune system for some weird reason started attacking his lung tissue. Which then lead to inflammation inside of his lungs. Inflammation then led to capillaries bursting. Essentially, he was drowning in his own blood."

"Well I had no idea, and I cried when my mom cried, and I had no idea why," added his older sister, Kennedy.

The last two years have been filled with various hospital visits, doctors appointments, and long nights of trying to figure out how to keep their little Troy alive.

"He needed nine units of blood when he got to Seattle, and what was really scary was that if that blood hadn't been there, I wouldn't have a son anymore," said Wes.

Now, the Ross's have made it their priority to bring awareness to diseases like pulmonary capillaritis, and what it takes to help treat such a condition.

That's when they created the Troy Strong Blood Drive.

"We wanted to find a way to pay back the emotional, financial, spiritual support that we received. Our goal with this is to give back, help the next person in need, and make sure there's never a shortage."

The drive made stops in all the major Montana towns - Havre, Billings, Kalispell, Helena, Missoula, Bozeman, and wrapped up in Great Falls. The turnout was more than the Ross family could've ever imagined.

It takes less than 30 minutes to donate blood, but for the families that benefit from it, it last a lifetime.

"We're on target to get 150 donations, which really is like 450 lives that are impacted by this," said Troy's mom, Callie Ross.

Along the way, they've gained support from just about every town in the Treasure State, even getting an official letter from Governor Steve Bullock himself.

"He has made himself a little part of everybody's heart in Montana. It's been pretty awesome."

Although the drive was named in Troy's honor, the Ross family says they don't want the focus on him, but rather how his story can impact those around him.

"That's been kind of our mission, is we never want it to be about Troy,and we never want it to be about our family. We want it to be about how we can pay it forward and help other families," said Callie.

"I truly believe a miracle happened," said Wes. "There's really no explanation why Troy is here, but he's defied the odds, he's still here with us today, and he's truly fighting hard to be Troy Strong."

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