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.
Hi, I was watching YouTube videos the other day when I came across this and thought of Ryan.
Thanks for being such a strong and beautiful family, truly inspirational and the epitome of Love.
Shelby Stannard via Facebook says
Do you have the exact locations? I have a 4 hour ride up 81 today coming back home and I would love to see them!
I’m going to take a trip along 81 to see even just one! You are amazing, Ken!
Wonderful news on successful launch of the billboards. They look great!
This is awesome! More news articles bringing attention to Ryan and his cause, more readership, more help for Ryan and his needs for now and the future.
Lori Cadmus says
I read the blog everyday, but don’t post very often, Just have no words to really express what I think, or what your words make me feel. But today I have to try, and please know my words are inadequate. Your post today overwhelms me, and so clearly defines love, good, evil, compassion, determination, hope, its all in there. Ryan will always be relevant, and I pray to God someday he can look at you and say, ” Dad, I’ll take it from here.”
Rhonda Morin says
You should post more, that was beautiful!
A chip on your shoulder?? I think not – how about what must feel like the weight of the world on your shoulders. You shouldn’t even think twice about anything you do to keep Ryan relevant. Too bad if there is some embarrassment, there certainly hasn’t been any remorse. Can’t wait to see what you come up with for Delaware. I have an idea…….
Love it !!
Paula Dundas Hamrick via Facebook says
Great post Ken.
Ali Thompson says
These are wonderful! I am so happy this is helping to get Ryan’s Story out even more! 🙂 I live just a hop, skip & a jump from St. Mary’s so I will definitely be taking a road trip up there once the billboard is up! I can’t wait! 🙂 Much Love to the Diviney’s!
Callie Miller via Facebook says
I drive to Atlanta twice a week and I will be looking for this billboard! =) Thanks for bringing Ryan’s Rally to the ATL!
Gail Doyle says
Hoping new billboards will go up all over, and thanking this wonderful man and Co. for helping keep Ryan relevant
Jennifer Moore Lovelace via Facebook says
Cannot wait to see them! Much love!
Jo Hobbs via Facebook says
I agree with every word! The memory of NBC Washington’s story on Dec. 4th, 2009 is as fresh in my mind as if I viewed it yesterday! Following along all these years and STILL HERE, STILL PRAYING. NOT EVER GOING AWAY! Love and prayers across the river.
Hi Ken, I’m excited for the new interest these billboards are generating for Ryan!!
I think society has gotten too comfortable with allowing perpetrators of violence to carry on, with little in the way of genuine accountability. Until such time as criminals stop inflicting their destructive rage on innocent people, the victims of crime (which include all family members, friends, the community) must insist upon the full measure of justice. Unfortunately victims of violent crime never really get complete justice because they’re often left with horrible emotional and physical suffering as a result of the crime.
The horrific physical damage inflicted upon Ryan by Austin VanTrease and Jonathon May is exacerbated by the VanTrease family’s continued denial of their son’s guilt, as well as their insistence that Ryan is to blame for what their son did. That behavior, in and of itself, is unnerving. I imagine the Parole Board may have taken note of this disturbing attitude when they decided to deny Austin’s request to be released. If a person cannot admit and take responsibility for their actions, there is little hope they can be rehabilitated. If they cannot find it within themselves to demonstrate any true compassion for their victim, this is further evidence of a lack of remorse for the harm they caused.
To the gentleman who reached out to help the Diviney family by offering these billboards, I am so grateful to you for caring about a family you never met — not just with your words, but by doing something tangible to help. Ryan’s road to healing has been excruciatingly difficult, but he keeps pushing on, demonstrating a rare kind of strength and fortitude. His journey has and will continue to be a long and arduous one, but his progress is visible and real, and someday his case will be studied in medical textbooks around the world. Miracles can happen when people believe. Thank you for believing in Ryan.
Carla Liberty says
DIVINEY STRONG!!!! Thank you National Outdoor Advertising, and John Fite. Team Diviney thanks you for helping to keep Ryan relevant. We thank all of those who have so generously given to this wonderful family. Blue Moon, Michael & Sons, Koons, the list goes on and on. YOU ALL ROCK!
Rhonda Morin says
“Too Fuddruckin’ bad” is my new favorite line. I will be using this all the time. And I have a chip on my shoulder too. Hope that’s okay.
Huge advertising kudos for National Outdoor Advertising, guess those boards really work! I hope this new boost puts a small jump in your step, you deserve so much more. 🙂
Jeannette Hennett says
Rhonda, I smiled reading the Post today. Your reply with your new favorite line did too!…One of my favorite lines has always been, “If the truth hurts, change it”. I hope every time the criminals, their family & friends read or hear of the billboards, they come to that understanding. Although they can’t change how they brutally hurt Ryan, they can take responsibility for the truth and own up. That’s not anywhere close to enough but until then, I hope more millions keep Ryan relevant.
I want to apologize for being too direct, harsh and overly protective when I responded to you when Ken posted about Ryan’s birthday. I wasn’t graceful in my expression and I was overly sensitive. We both are impassioned for the same cause and we are on the same team. These billboards will enlarge our village so more can join the family of Team Diviney. We are all here to support Ryan, validate Ken’s voice and “raise the roofs” shouting “We’re not going to take it”…
Please take care. Peace, Jeannette
Rhonda Morin says
Thank you for writing that. I have a horrible problem of trying to solve the worlds problems. Ken will tell you that I have personally emailed him about this thing or that thing, have you tried this, what about that…. It is something I have done for years but not until the last 2 years or so have I noticed I do it to a fault and my own detriment. I had to step back for Ryan’s birthday because even though I want to wave the magic wand and make it all better, you reminded me that my anxiousness to help is often times not wanted and not accepted. I am working on this in therapy but I get overly excited sometimes. I felt terrible that I may have caused even more pain to the family. I was kind of excited to see a photo of Kari with Ryan and a cut piece of cake. I hope it helped them heal a tiny bit.
Jaimi Dean Franus via Facebook says
“Forgiveness is not mine to give. 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.” Sums it all up for me. And, those of us who are a part of Team Diviney will be here to bolster y’all the entire way.