Ryan turned 25 Sunday, December 2nd!
As I write those words, I find it difficult to believe that 25 years have passed.
It was just yesterday…..
Ryan was 4 months and starting Happy Hearts, the Barber Center child care program located down the street from our main building. Its close proximity provided me the opportunity to visit during lunch and check in on him. And then he celebrated his first birthday with a “party” with his fellow classmates.
Soon after his diagnosis at 2, we were implementing an ABA program mornings, afternoons, and weekends. He was a busy young man!!!! And so was I. It was “hard work,” but I do attribute much of his success to the intensity of the program in his very early years. He loved visiting his Aunt Tootie (Dr. Barber), sitting on her couch, and eating the special crackers she kept just for him.
From elementary through middle school, he was fortunate to have some strong administrators (especially Mrs. Mosely) and caring teachers who challenged him to be the best he could be. By the time he was in high school, he was ready to say goodbye to school and move into the world of work. He volunteered at Bello’s Market as a Junior and Senior, and was offered a job there upon graduation. He continues to work there Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings, completing their maintenance needs. He works with our Transitional Work Service program in maintenance Monday through Friday afternoons. He loves working! He has probably the best work ethic of any young person that I know.
Another facet of Ryan is his interest in and commitment to fitness. He participated in the kid’s marathon at age nine, skis and loves the outdoors. Today, he works out at LECOM twice a day, by swimming, running, lifting weights, and golfing. I must say it is hard to keep up with him! He completed the Barber Beast on the Bay for the 4th year in a row, and was smiling as he crossed the finish line, after running 10 miles!
As I look back over the years, I know that I have so much to be grateful for: family, friends, outstanding staff, and the Erie community that welcomes children with disabilities.
And the future??? My expectations continue to be high and who knows what the future will bring. He has accomplished much more than I ever would have dreamed!
Tune in next year and I’ll fill you in on what Ryan’s 25th year held!
Happy birthday Ryan. My son Junior turned 28 on September 27. Am so proud of his accomplishments even as he struggles with his speech.