From the moment Ryan Jude Doyle was born on May 12, 2000, he was a source of great joy and happiness. His parents, Dee and Tim, loved Ryan unconditionally as many parents do, but also saw something very special about him. His older brother and sister, Griffin and Casey, welcomed his arrival into what would become an inseparable trio. His grandparents also recognized something wonderful about Ryan and bonded with him in an extraordinary way. As the youngest of 13 cousins, Ryan was doted on as the baby of the family by his aunts, uncles, and fellow cousins. Ryan was indeed lovable, but what made him most remarkable was the way he loved back.
Ryan, or RyRy as he was affectionately known by his mom, loved life and knew how to enjoy it. His sense of humor was advanced well beyond his years and his mere presence would bring a smile to your face. In the words of his High School principal “Everything he did was to make sure other people were going to smile.” His clever humor did not go unrecognized, as he was awarded class clown by his peers in Middle School and in High School.
Ryan also loved sports, but as much as anything else he enjoyed the fun of competing. He was a natural athlete, who particularly excelled in football and baseball. Ryan was awarded the Underclassman of the Year following his sophomore football season and was selected as captain of the football team after his junior year. He was a standout second baseman on his high school baseball team, hitting .412 in his junior season. He also loved basketball and was a master of any beach game ever invented. His competitive spirit transcended sports, including cooking competitions with his Aunt Pam. Ryan’s competitive spirit would be come a critical asset during his impending battle with cancer.
At the end of Ryan’s junior year of High School, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a very rare form of bone cancer. This news was devastating to his family, but Ryan approached it with a sense of determination. It is said that adversity does not build character, but rather reveals it. The world was about to find out what a truly courageous young man Ryan Doyle is.
The initial treatment plan required chemotherapy, the amputation of his left leg, followed by additional chemotherapy. Ryan was confident that if he followed the blueprint he would be OK. He approached the treatments as a challenge, showing a brave exterior in an effort to strengthen those around him. In a show of unfathomable strength and determination, Ryan returned to the sidelines of his High School team eight days after the amputation of his leg.
His sense of humor stayed intact throughout his treatments, including playing pranks and practical jokes on his nurses, dressing as Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump on Halloween, and posing with a prom proposal sign saying “I would give an arm and a leg to go to prom with you”.
What was most remarkable about Ryan through his battle was his concern for others. During one particular hospital stay for a chemotherapy treatment, Ryan was visited by his aunt who recently had hip replacement surgery. As soon as she entered the room, Ryan immediately asked how her surgery went.
One of his teacher’s said “I will never have the words to explain the impact Ryan Doyle had on my heart and my life. He smiled, you smiled, he laughed, you laughed…his energy was infectious and always positive, even when you knew he was fighting a fight that none of us could ever imagine”.
Ryan demonstrated his courage and concern for others every moment of his time on earth. In one of his last acts of love and kindness, Ryan fought through inconceivable pain and suffering to stay awake until the clock struck midnight, at which time he whispered “Happy Father’s Day” to his dad Tim. Ryan passed away later that same day.
Ryan truly did love others and the community loved him back. His community, family, and friends organized several events to help Ryan, but just as importantly, as a show of love and concern for him. In a final show of respect, over 1,200 people attended Ryan’s wake, many of them waiting over 1 1/2 hours to let Ryan and his family know how loved he was.
“He definitely was an inspiration to a lot of people and it just hit home because all of the parents had kids his age” his mom Dee said. “Everybody loved this kid. We love him and we miss him so much”.
Ryan will be missed in ways that words can not conceivably express. The best we can do is to honor Ryan’s memory by following his example; loving life and each other and doing our best to help make others smile.