Given just weeks after his son’s death, Ken Diviney’s (standing ovation) speech about community was given on September 19, 2019, at the annual Tee It Up For Ryan Diviney! golf event.
Described as powerful, insightful, sincere, and real & raw… it left many crying and shaking by the end. Like Ken, it was unique and unexpected in its message.
Ken’s presentation weaved in personal thoughts and tales — some uncomfortable, others deep and dark, and a few lighthearted — to show the impact of community in the face of tragedy. He tells of what community has meant — and continues to mean — in his family’s life.
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Transcript of Ken’s Speech
WE GOT THIS!
I said those exact words to my family. When Ryan was on the brink of death the morning he was attacked. When I assured my family that the expression meant, specifically, that “we” the Divineys, we got this. I had no idea that I underestimated “we”. “We” quickly encompassed so many others, as people came to our sides to help.
You see, even when my knees would buckle, the surface under my feet was always solid. I realized that the ground was community. Community is perhaps the greatest blessing in my life… Aside from my family. This community, you, care for those that are in need and suffering.
This event, with so many gathered here, shows me — and reminds me — how much you care. Without you, it would have been difficult. Truthfully, it would have been impossible to make it through so many dark times. You gave us the strength to continue a fight, a fight against the odds. Against all odds. In our weakness and despair, you lifted us up.
There were so many times that I could practically feel the community wrapping their arms around us. This event has Ryan’s name on it, Tee it Up for Ryan Diviney, but the truth is it equally belongs to each of you. This community.
Through your undying involvement over this past decade, it’s you — and people like you — that I sincerely thank and admire for supporting, promoting, and participating in our life. Our vision to keep Ryan relevant.
What you did here today achieves this endless goal and provides for his ongoing memory and legacy. Like Ryan’s story and legacy, this tournament will continue for many more years… for the community now.
Each day throughout this tragedy, I experienced every emotion possible, pegged at maximum intensity. I have loved — and been loved — more than imaginable. Then there’s the grief, despair, and hopelessness. And I’ve felt hatred more than any man should ever feel.
With all that said, believe me when I tell you that I am so deeply grateful to all of you more than you’ll probably ever know. Certainly, more than I can ever articulate. It is my honor to thank this community for having such a great event on behalf of my family and specifically for Ryan’s sake. My family needs you. I need you. Ryan still needs you.
Tim Small, Madison’s dad, (i.e., Madison passed suddenly of meningitis) once told me that I’m in a different boat than he is. That was true but were a hell of a lot closer now. We’ve both been floating haplessly at times on the sea of despair. From time-to-time, as today, we drift past each other… each wishing we could throw the other lifeline. Our solace and comfort is that we both realize we don’t have to suffer alone. We have each other.
Moreso, we have you.
As Tim correctly told me from his own experience, you have an amazing community around you that loves your family. There is such wisdom and truth and Tim’s words.
You see, my family existed for 10 years, always at the end of our rope simply refusing to release our grip. All the while I could hear the rope fibers snapping and popping from the unbearable tension. I often believed that there was no saving myself. The best I could do is to get above the fray and hold on for another day. I always found my way above it, but here’s where you, the community came in. You somehow were able to keep feeding more line until the day Ryan let me know, I could let go. This community didn’t allow me to fall.
You were there as you had always been there.
Okay. Now I know there’s a burning question on everyone’s mind. What about justice for Ryan? I realized I was committed to this many years ago when I stopped praying for heaven… and started praying for hell. But while on this earth, rest assured I will relentlessly pursue justice on his behalf. I’ve said all I can at this time.
Likewise, some people tell me I should forgive. I don’t. Forgiveness is not mine to give. That’s up to Ryan and for 10 years the attackers took that ability away from him. Honestly, I relish the anger. I feel it’s better than sadness. Anger motivates. Those thugs harmed my son, killed my son, twice. They’ve shown no remorse, no empathy, no moral consciousness. They’re truly monsters… evil to the core. I am now fearless and feel emboldened to call out evil when I see it.
Evil is my mortal enemy.
For all this suffering and everything that was taken away from Ryan. I thank God, this universe, this existence, that he’s not them (Vantrease and May).
My wife, she’s the kindest person I have ever met. As pure as the driven snow. I tell people I married my conscious. We’ve been married over 33 years and I’ve never met anyone as caring and honest.
I’m so enamored with her that I proudly call her and still refer to her as “my bride”. I sometimes wonder if I’ll walk in and surprise her while she’s polishing her halo. Ryan surely got these qualities from her.
I watched in amazement as she advocated for our son. She would tell people that my approach was a “controlled rampage”, where I would tell everybody in the hospital room, on the floor, in the entire facility, even unsuspecting people from housekeeping that came into his room that Ryan was in need of something… and now they were as accountable as everyone else. I would challenge and question their “standard of care” because… I quickly learned, and you should learn too, “standard of care” gets peoples attention in hospitals. It’s a reaction as if I just called their mother a whore.
Sorry. [i.e., Ken apologies to his wife for using the word “whore”.]
But Sue’s not so easy to label. So I’ll give an example — although there’s many — but this one is a really a good one. There was a time early on when Ryan needed more medical attention. He was “storming”… and that’s how the name of the documentary was labeled. It’s where his body and mind are in chaos. Temperatures are going above 106 degrees, blood pressure at stroke levels, respiration that could put him into cardiac arrest. And she pleaded with the staff to tend to him, but they kept stalling. She wanted a doctor. And she wanted one now, so she gave him a final warning. And then she quickly remedied the situation.
She called 911… on the ICU.
Within minutes the paramedics pulled up in the ambulance to the hospital – lights flashing, sirens blaring, bringing a stretcher up to the floor. And it worked. Every doctor there that night suddenly appeared in Ryan’s room. Then she started kicking them out.
Kari’s the forgotten victim in all of this; his sister. She grew up too fast and so much was stolen from her. She is so much stronger than she knows. Persistent, headstrong, determined, smarter than you realize with unbelievable intuition. Although she’s tried and tried and tried, I always told her, “you are not your brother’s keeper”. I didn’t allow it.
She deserved her life. One of happiness. To a large extent, our futures are a product of stark circumstances beyond our control. Still, in each person’s purview, they can handle the here and now. They have control of the moment. She did so with grace and dignity and I watched her in awe.
Kari, I know you wonder — and have wondered — how you can overcome situations that we’ve been through. Just remember what Brian told you. Brian was attacked the night Ryan was attacked. Kari and Brian share a bond that no two people could ever share. It’s a special thing between them. And you were doubting yourself… and you were wondering how you are gonna make it through a situation. And Brian, he just looked at you. You (Brian) came up with the most powerful answer possible, and you were almost looking at you (Kari) like, are you kidding? And he said, out loud, “You’re a Diviney”, and you knew you could make it through.
If I could only find a way to let you know how deeply proud of you that I am. What you’ve become and what you’re capable of becoming. We will always be behind you.
The deepest hurt I ever felt was the morning Ryan was beaten… when I called you to come in as fast as you could get there to say goodbye to your brother. The empathy I felt for you that moment will never be matched.
You know that I, and your mom, love you deeply. But I wonder, do you know that we cherish you?
Anyhow, Ryan had the social clout — he had the popularity — to carry himself any way that he chose. He used his influence always to stand up for the downtrodden, the disabled, the underprivileged, and the bullied.
He was the most inclusive person I have ever known. Once he brought you into the group, you knew you made it. When Ryan would tell people, “I got this, I got you” – he meant it. Ryan’s ability to be able to move on from life situations and seasons of life was inspirational and I see it in my daughter. In fact, we just talked about it this summer. How as a family we were able to move on… and this? This is a tough one. But…
Ryan is now letting us know that it’s time to move on.
Ryan has set the course for me, a path filled with love. A road to fearlessly stand up to evil in the face of darkness. Ryan was a unique soul, an old soul. His essence, even while injured, exuded purpose, confidence, inclusiveness, and love.
On the night Ryan passed, Sue and I were just laying there grief-stricken, and I see Sue gets a smile on her face. And she says, “I’m sure Ryan’s already standing at the entrance to heaven, welcoming people in”. And I said, “Well, now it goes beyond that. He’s surely in God’s ear telling him how he can spruce up the place, to add more spirit”.
His personality’s larger than life. Even in his death. Ryan’s life was epic, right to the very end with the police escort to the cemetery. And escort doesn’t even do it justice. It was a spectacle! Police from the state, the county, and Leesburg. My family was in awe witnessing the majesty of the changing of jurisdictions. We love how they, as part of our community, honored our son.
And we’ve heard that only happened once in the past 40 years… for a police officer.
His (Ryan’s) impact on people was not because he was a famous singer or a famous athlete. It was because of the life he lived and the impact he had on others. Ryan brought honor and reverence to our family name, Diviney. Because of him. our name has so much power in it.
To all of you, for all that you’ve done and continue to do for Sue, me, Ryan and Kari, I’m proud to call you family. For all that matters, please know to us… you’re a Diviney.
WE GOT THIS!
Crowd applause. Standing ovation.
—— End Speech —–
Wanting more of Ryan and the Divineys? Watch the Ryan Diviney: Celebration of Life slideshow (that run throughout his funeral services); and other videos on the Ryan’s Rally: We Got This! YouTube Channel.
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