I received the following emails that I wanted to share. One thing I know is Joshua, the author, is clearly not “weird”… at least not any more.May 3, 2013 11:48AM Fr: Joshua Groff To: Ken Diviney <Kdiviney@ryansrally.org> Ryan’s Impact on My Life
You have never heard from me before. For some reason, I have kept quiet. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t visit your site to check up on Ryan. Today I feel compelled to write to you. Before I go any farther, please let me share a little about myself and my experiences with Ryan.
I grew up in Lancaster, PA where we are better known for our Amish and farming more than anything. We are a very tight community where family and relationships mean more to us than anything else. Like your family, my family was raised on the right principles. I grew up in a community that would come together in times of tragedy and in times of great joy.
When I was in third grade I met my best friend who also happened to be named Ryan. We grew inseparable throughout the years. Our friendship never faltered, minus a few petty fights over women. However, our friendship took a major turn during the summer heading into our freshmen year [of high school]. Ryan started experiencing some health issues and after many tests it was determined he had Melanoma and was given less than 6 months to live. Like your son, [my friend] Ryan wouldn’t accept that fate.
After aggressively fighting cancer and missing out on an entire year of school, Ryan’s cancer was in remission. Ryan overcame the odds and beat the cancer that the experts claimed he had no chance of beating. During that time, Ryan didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him. He wanted to be an example of his motto that “positive things happen to positive people”. During his fight, Ryan grew as a person and as a leader. Most people in our area knew Ryan and people looked up to him for it.
A couple of years passed of him being cancer free, but tragedy struck yet again for him. He got the news that his cancer came back and this time it was even more aggressive. Ryan went into it with the same mentality as the first time. His family was his support, I supported him and the community supported him. Unfortunately this time around proved to be too much and on April 12, 2008 Ryan succumbed to cancer.
At the time of his passing, I was devastated. I lost my best friend. I lost my brother. After mourning day and night, I knew I had to do something. I chose to do what Ryan did and that was fight. I needed to fight like he fought and I looked to his story as inspiration and as a driving force on what would guide me throughout the rest of my life.[My friend] Ryan always made fun of me for not going to college right away. I would have felt extremely guilty going away to school to know that my best friend was fighting for his life. There is not one part of me that regrets what I have done, and part of that is due to your son. I know that to this point this has been all about me and my friend named Ryan, but here is the part that I want you to know.
I always wanted to go away to school and for multiple reasons I chose WVU. It was in the fall of 2008 when I first moved into the 7th Floor of Brooke Tower. As I’m sure you may recall, your son happened to be on the same floor and in fact he was in the room right next to me. I thought that going to WVU would be one of the easiest things I have ever done.
I couldn’t have been anymore wrong.
WVU was a complete culture shock for me. I had a hard time adjusting to the lifestyle and finding my place. I’m sure there were many people that thought I was the “weird” kid. In all reality maybe that is the case. One thing I can tell you for sure is that I was in complete disbelief on how the American culture is completely different from one part of the country to the next. Consider this ignorance on my behalf.
Despite my struggles to really find a group or transition away from my ignorance was one person that made a remarkable impact on my life. That was and continues to be your son, Ryan. Ryan recognized me for who I was. A down to earth young man who was struggling after losing his best friend and was struggling adjusting to a culture that was completely different than anything he has ever experienced.
That didn’t stop [your son] Ryan. I don’t think it is a coincidence that my best friend that passed away from cancer and your son has the same name. Your son realized that both he and I had one thing in common and that was our principles and beliefs. Ryan took time out of his life to make an impact on mine by getting to know me and by being my friend. I am forever grateful for how your son treated me and for the impact that he made on my life.
I’m not sure what legal battles you are currently facing that are trying to say that Ryan wasn’t the person that you make him out to be. In fact, at times I don’t think you do him enough justice. He was every bit of a man that you could ask out of him. There are very few people out there that I would even consider comparing to your son. He was a man who is made out of the right stuff as evidence by his daily fight.
Wishing you and your family nothing but the best!
Joshua A. Groff
P.S.- On a very personal side note, I wanted to let you know that recently your son helped me in a very peculiar sort of way. I started a new job as a Financial Consultant with a company. Within the first week of being there they were asking me to do unethical and illegal things. When trying to figure out what to do, I thought back to the people that have had the biggest influences in my life, your son being one of them. To make a long story short, I realized the importance of having integrity and respect so I decided to quit my job. I decided that I would rather die broke and homeless then die rich knowing that I would have no integrity left. Although it could be a career killer for me as I’m still unemployed, I believe it was by far the best decision I have ever made. My family along with your son taught me that morals and standards are what makes a man a man. Please pass along my thanks to Ryan and helping not only develop my morals and standards, but in knowing that no matter what I do in my life I should never compromise my principles and that I should always do the right thing.
I wrote back to Joshua that afternoon thanking him (and asking if could share his email as a Guest Post). Joshua’s response follows:
There is no need to thank me for sharing this with you. If anybody needs to be saying thank you, it is me. It is because you and your wife raised Ryan the way all boys should be raised that he made such an impact on my life. Words can’t express my gratitude towards you and him for the way he turned out.
When nobody else would, Ryan made me feel welcome in a place that was foreign to me. He understood me, and people like him and my other friend Ryan are the type of people who I want to mold my life after. People like them are proof that you need to do the right thing such as the decision that I shared with you regarding my employment. It is because of the impact that your son had on my life that I know I need to make the right decisions and by doing so I will be rewarded.