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Journal Writing Project - New beginning

Fri, Dec 10th, 2010
Posted in Journal Student Writing Project

The above photograph was taken when Jeff and paraprofessional Melissa Laue were out for a Fall walk. Photo provided

The Fillmore Central Class of 2011 had a classmate with muscular dystrophy. Jeffrey Michael Ryland passed away on Sunday, November 21, 2010, at age 17. According to Google health.com, muscular dystrophy is a combination of disorders that involves muscles weakening and the loss of muscle tissue. The condition progressively gets worse over time. There are no known cures for MD; The goal of treatment is only to control symptoms.

MD was a life-long battle for Jeffrey, and he never gave up fighting. The day our school found out he had passed away was a very sad and quiet day. Our band teacher, Mr. Powell, said something very meaningful. He said, "If you didn't know Jeff, you missed out." This was so true. Jeffrey was an amazing person with the biggest heart, and he seemed to never have a bad day. Some students remember him by his joke-of-the-day he told every morning. Or the school talent shows, when he would race across bubble wrap in his wheelchair as fast as he could, and all we could hear was his laugh and him yelling, "Faster, faster!" Another memory was when the students of FC crowned him the Sno Daze Prince, his freshman year. These are just a few of the memories that the FC students shared with Jeffrey.

It's sad to think we will be graduating in the spring without him. But we know he loves his new beginning and has the biggest smile on his face. I imagine Jeffery running through the snow and making snow angels. The life we are in now is, to us, our most important time, but to Jeffrey, it was just his life before he could have the time of his life. And now he is there, loving his new beginning.

Our class attended Jeffery's funeral and paid our respects. Then our class drove to the burial site. And right before we finished the burial ceremony, we saw the sunset. It was so beautiful, almost magical. We all knew at that time that he was looking over us, and he loved his new beginning.

We love you and miss you Jeff!

Katie Ristau is a student at Fillmore Central High School. She is one of 10 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its twelfth year.

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