by Frank Fumich
In 2009, Ryan Diviney was a 20-year old sophomore student attending West Virginia University on a 4-year academic scholarship. Up to that point in his life he was a smart, fun-loving, athletic young man who had the world at his fingertips and big plans for life. He came from a loving and close-knit family who imagined Ryan coming home from college ready to attack the world.
But in the early morning hours of November 7, 2009 it was Ryan himself who was attacked. He was beaten by two other young men named Jonathon May and Austin Vantrease (both from Newark, DE). As Ryan was backing away with his hands up in the air, one of those men [May] punched him in the face, knocking him unconscious and then the other [Vantrease] approached Ryan as he lay on the ground, and kicked him in the head as if he were “punting a football” according to witness testimony.
When paramedics arrived, Ryan was bleeding from the ears and suffering seizures. He suffered a fractured skull, a broken jaw, and bleeding of the brain.
Ryan barely survived the surgery to remove a third of his skull to allow for brain swelling, and its aftermath. He had mulitple life-threatening episodes of “brain storming” for 12 to 18 hours a day. His core body temperature swung below 92 degrees and to over 109.8. His heart stopped twice and he endured nine surgeries. And because he is unable to blink, his eyes have been sewn shut to prevent further damage. Ryan has had numerous complications since then and almost died 8 months later even, but has managed to defy all odds and pull through each time.
Unfortunately though, although alive, he lives in a vegetative state and is cared for by his family basically 24/7.
His father Ken works with Ryan all day every day. He physically moves his fully grown 25-year-old son from one machine to the next (much bought with the family’s own money because so little is known about traumatic brain injuries, much of his care is considered experimental and thus not covered by insurance). Ken works with his son about 8 hours a day, to try and keep his body and muscles moving in some form or another. He cleans Ryan’s mouth about every 3-4 hours (because people in this condition are very susceptible to pneumonia and the bacteria that causes it), feeds him via feeding tube, changes his urine bag throughout the day, monitors just about every aspect of him, and even gives him a shower each and every night.
Ken does this without fail EVERYDAY.
The two young men, May and Vantrease, that did this to Ryan served a total of [less than] 5 years between them, and are currently out of jail and free to pursue their life dreams, while Ryan no longer has dreams…but sits day after day, unresponsive.
My name is Frank Fumich. I was born, raised, and currently still live in Northern Virginia close to where Ryan grew up and lives now. I also came from a loving and close-knit family who sent me away to college with probably the same expectations as Ryan’s parents had for him. I also went to WVU, but I was fortunate enough to graduate, start a business, marry, start a family, and traveled the world many times over enjoying one adventure after another. When I was reintroduced to this story from a friend, I couldn’t help but be struck hard by the difference in our lives and how just a few seconds sent our destinies in completely different directions.
I knew I was going to do SOMETHING to help Ryan and his family and this is it.
On June 16, 2015 I’ll begin racing in one of the toughest races of any kind in the world…Race Across America (RAAM). It’s a 3,000 mile cycling race that begins in Oceanside, Ca and ends 12 days later in Annapolis, Md. I not only want to raise money to help Ryan’s family with their never ending medical expenses for him, I want to KEEP RYAN RELEVENT.
Ryan isn’t dead. He’s alive, and they still hold out hope for some miracle that he might make some progress, and he has.
So many times the news daily news cycle moves onto the next tragedy that scrolls across out TV screens, but nothing is moving along for the Divineys’ and Ryan is still there…and they don’t want people to forget about their son. So that’s where I come in.
I’m going to do everything in my power, and then some, to bike across the country and I’m only leaving that race course across the finish line or on a stretcher. There’s going to be so many times during this race when I KNOW my body and mind have reached their limit. But every time I hit “the wall” and feel the urge to quit, I’m going to think of how hard Ryan has continued to fight, and how hard his dad Ken and family continue to push onward… and I’m going to pull strength from that myself. I hope to motivate, inspire, and move people to want to HELP RYAN!! His family motto is “WE GOT THIS” and with everyone’s help, we sure as hell do!!!! Thanks for your support!
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Many thanks for your support — and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate too!