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I was typing you a reply to your note from last night when I received the phone call...I am so sorry.

You know, as I started to leave yesterday I wanted to go back and say good-bye to him...I just couldn't though...I thought for sure I would come back Sunday or Monday and say hello -- and good-bye. But since I didn't, I wanted YOU to know what your son meant to me and how I will always remember him....

Ryan has unfortunately lost the battle, but he most definitely won the war.  He won the war of living.

So many people who are given so many things never realize what it means to live...Ryan always did.  Simply, HE GOT IT.  Ryan understood that life is about living.  Somehow, even when he knew he was dying, he figured out a way to help people who would be living after he was not.  Remarkably, through all his difficulties he lived everyday to the fullest, and managed each challenge and handicap with confidence and poise. 

In my math class, where I first met Ryan, he never let any one equation get by him without giving it his full attention.  While he struggled occasionally, he ALWAYS got the right answer.  Maybe not the first time, but he would come back for assistance, until he got each problem solved.  I can still remember him sitting in his favorite seat with this cock-eyed look about him...a grin that said "C'mon Riley, this is the best you got?"   Even on a test or a quiz, he would not put them away until he was comfortable with the material and sure he got it right.  He did not care about getting credit for the problem, and unlike nearly all of his peers, he never argued for an extra point or two, he just always wanted know what he had done wrong, as to be sure not to make the same mistake ever again.

With golf he made me laugh, because he would meticulously address each drive or putt as if it were the most important shot of his life.  And each shot was, actually, because it was the challenge that was in front of him at that time -- and it was all that mattered at that moment. 

Simply, it was next on the checklist...just get it done.  

A lesson for all of us indeed.

With hockey, he truly cared about the Wolf Pack and the Hurricanes as if he were a part of the team...and, in his mind, he was.  With his homepage set to their websites he checked in on both of them daily -- knowing all along EXACTLY where they stood in the standings, and the value of the next game.  I will always remember him coming in my office telling me when the 'Canes next game was by checking their schedule -- on his watch!   

When we went to the Stanley Cup playoff game in Carolina, he had a unique calm and charm about him even though he was as excited as could be, reveling in his own personal Disneyworld.  At the morning skate that we attended, players and staff members, including Ron Francis, came up to chat with him, and we were both really nervous, but only I remained that way, as within thirty seconds, Ryan had him/them in the palm of his hand...It was amazing.  I'll never forget it. 

Everything Ryan did had a purpose...his schoolwork, his charities, his hockey, his golf tournaments, even his life-long career goal of becoming a sportscaster.  Never a day passed when he was not engaged in pursuing something of value.

The irony of all of this, Phyllis, is that I took a liking to Ryan and wanted to be his friend and role model. Somehow, while we were certainly good friends, Ryan became, and will remain, my role model.

God Bless you and Barry.