Yesterday morning three brightly lit, digital billboard displays — measuring 14′ x 25′ — went live in southwest Virginia. The effect was immediate and noticeable. Within an hour I was getting calls from the media. Readership on this website was notably higher all day (and today as well). Emails were coming in too fast to keep up with. Ryan’s Facebook Fan Page was on fire with views.
Here are the live shots:
It doesn’t stop with these three either. A billboard in Atlanta, GA will be up-and-running soon. Probably today. It’s in a prime location… DOWNTOWN and viewable from the interstate!
John Fite, with National Outdoor Advertising, gets so much credit for making this happen. In fact, we are trying to make this go national. It looks like Orlando, FL might happen next. As they say at Disney, it really is “A small world, after all”.
John is also helping me with some specific locations:
- Newark, DE and Philadelphia Area. This is the hometown of the two convicted violent attackers, Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May. I’m thinking one should be near the University of Delaware, since this is were Austin Vantrease was tracked down and arrested (ironically, while sitting in a criminology class, I’m told by the Detective).
- St. Mary’s, WV. This is the city of the prison that Austin Vantrease is serving his time. “St. Marys Correctional Center’s mission is to provide for the custody, control and care of convicted, adult, male felons who have been convicted of severe crimes against man or nature.” [Source: WV DOC]
- Morgantown, WV. This is the home of West Virginia University, where my son attended (and my daughter currently attends). The attack occurred just across the road from the downtown campus.
- Dewey Beach, DE and the surrounding Eastern Shore. We hear this is a frequent destination of the attacker’s family.
People ask me why I’m doing this. It’s simple, really. To keep Ryan relevant! Too Fuddruckin’ bad if it causes embarrassment to the attackers and their families. If they won’t accept accountability (and they haven’t, I assert) then I’ll relentlessly impose it upon them. Damn straight, I will. Sure, it might seem like I’m being vindictive — and perhaps I am — but I hope people will excuse me for having a chip on my shoulder.
When Jonathan May sucker-punched my son from behind (lifting him off his feet from the blow) and Austin Vantrease kicked Ryan as he was flat on his back and unresponsive (testimony described it as “punting his head like a football”) that was the exact second I came into the fray. Nobody is allowed to mess with my family and get a free pass. Some tell me I should forgive and move on. There’s no moving on. It’s permanent. Forgiveness is not mine to give. My fatherly task is to act on Ryan’s behalf. Carry out his values, desires, beliefs, wishes, and principles. I will NEVER let him down as long as I can draw air into my lungs. When I can’t then I’ll haunt them if it’s spiritually possible. Here’s the truth, the only one who can forgive these violent criminals is Ryan, and right now they’ve taken away his ability to do so. Until he can tell me, “Dad, I’ll take it from here…” then I’ll promise to never pull my foot off the gas pedal.
Here’s the thing, too, within hours “Team Diviney” was beginning to form. I often wonder who came up with that label. What started as a groundswell has become a mountain. First it was one or two people in the ICU waiting room. Then we took over the lobby. Then the floor. It found it’s way into the public and swept across the nation. Three-million viewers of this website is proof-positive. Team Diviney surrounded my family with care and compassion. They interjected themselves into holding those ruffians responsible. They felt my anguish and despair… and rage. Really, isn’t this epic? The greatest earthly depiction of good versus evil? I’d say more than a few of you have a chip on your shoulder too.
Thank you for loving my son and joining me on the impossible journey.