Posted on April 13, 2017
It has been roughly 18 months since Ryan was diagnosed with cancer and the #RyFight began. We haven't posted an update to YouCaring in over a year, instead relying on Ryan's blog which he and Clover have used to keep those who love him in the loop.
During that time the level of support for him has been beyond what any of us could have ever imagined was possible. Most importantly - it has blown away Ryan's expectations.
We're doing another update now to reach out again for that support. This post is long overdue and as a result long in length.
When we first put up this YouCaring site Ryan, like any of us would in his shoes, had a thought in his mind about how things would go and how many people would donate. Those of us starting this page had a different number. Somewhere buried in e-mails and gchats I have, and will forever, keep there are joking arguments back and forth over who was going to be right.
Needless to say all of us, every person who made a donation no matter how big or small, blew Ryan's number away. It wasn't even close (and I made sure to point that fact out to him regularly). As of right now: 427 individual donations.
I still remember the first time him and I talked about that fact face to face. It was never about the money, it was never truly about hitting a certain # of donations. It was about Ryan knowing how much people cared for him. There will never be the perfect words to explain how he looked in that moment, but it was truly written across his face that he had no idea so many people cared so deeply for him and that so many of us would be there to support him however he needed.
Since then we have held a 'horse race' themed fundraiser complete with numerous raffles, coordinated by Brenton Hard. Every item was something donated by a person that loves Ryan. We had enough tickets to fill the venue to its 150 person capacity: we sold out and had a waiting list weeks in advance.
This past fall Lena Palmer created a calendar for Ryan, containing friends from the ultimate frisbee community who volunteered to pose 'tastefully nude'. Again there was friendly arguing over who was going to be right on the number sold. Again we won and got to say "I told you so".
My biggest regret, greater than all others, will be that I never wrote down more quotes of Ryan's; not only with this, but everything. That exactly what he said in those moments, his exact expression of how all of this support made him feel, wasn't kept track of word for word. And instead we have this long, twisting post.
The last 18 months have been unimaginably difficult, I'd be lying if I said otherwise. But you would not know how hard it has truly been seeing and talking with Ryan. It's in his nature to worry about everyone else, when he should just be worrying about himself. You can see it in the tone he uses and the way he conveys updates in his blog posts: he shields as many people as he can from the true struggle behind the scenes. To some extent or another he has shielded all of us, even those who have been closest to this fight.
The support we've spent so much time talking about is what gives him the strength to do that. To not have to worry about whether or not he can afford the treatment he needs, but focus on fighting the cancer. To not have to give up the things he loves, to not have those things taken away from him, to keep living the life he chooses. Even if one of those things is still working a full time job while running his own business AND hosting trivia every single week while battling Stage 4 cancer (if you can't tell...that has been a major point of contention, which unfortunately Ryan's stubbornness has won...).
Despite everything he has been put through the last 18 months, Ryan has never asked for anything. Never made a single demand. Things have been getting progressively harder for him since the day he was diagnosed, but he was still so worried about stressing others out that he would refuse to tell you what he needed.
We've finally been able to get Ryan to provide us with a list of things he wishes to do, a 'bucket list' of sorts. Clover got him courtside Knicks tickets, this weekend he is going to see Saturday Night Live, and soon he will sit ringside at a boxing match.
But that isn't enough. It can't be enough.
The reason for that is because if the roles were reversed, if any one of us had cancer instead of Ryan, he would not stop until he personally accomplished every single item on our list. We all know he somehow would manage to do that, no matter how weird the request was. Pulling off ridiculous things has always been Ryan's super power.
The list in the latest post on his blog barely scratches the surface of what he has done, but for any other person it would be unimaginable.
It hurts to admit but I know realistically, deep down, we won't be able to accomplish everything he wants. We'll never be able to pay him back with experiences to match what he has given all of us.
The least we can do is try to give him as many as we can.
And that is the point of this round of fundraising: to raise enough money to accomplish as many things on his list as we can. Whether it is something simple like 'riding a horse' or creatively solving the puzzle of how to 'have a nerf gun fight at the OK corral".
There is a final piece that needs to be stated, but writing these updates is not easy and I don't think any of us is at a point where we want to discuss it more than necessary. So we apologize for being brief.
Any funds raised for Ryan's bucket list that aren't able to be used, will be saved and put towards a memorial, FUNeral and other expenses which arise from losing a loved one.