An Anniversary To Forget…

As I sit here on the day of Ryley’s accident one year ago, once again our family split with RyleyKim & Colby in Atlanta, I look back at all that has occurred and start to look forward to what’s next for my boy. He has come so far in the past year thanks in great part to all of the support you all have provided to him and my family. The physical trauma is behind him, yes there are many physical challenges that are ahead of him but more important is how his mental toughness will be challenged in the years to come. Social media is both a blessing and a curse. Prayers, words of encouragement, financial support, etc. all enhanced by social media. Yet, we live in a society of right here…right now. Beach trips, lake trips, trips around the world all there right on your screen 24/7. I’m not one to be jealous but I do have to tell you I have felt jealously watching families enjoy their summers, enjoying time with their family, the road trips, exotic locations… the spontaneity of being able to just take off that the Hopper’s lost one year ago. Now imagine watching this day in and day out and questioning your future. This has & will continue to be Ryley’s biggest challenge moving forward. Going from chasing lightning’s tail to almost a complete standstill is more than he can handle at times. It will take time and we all know that he has nothing but success in his future. He’s just on a different path than he was before. Many of you have used the word “inspiration” when seeing Ryley and shower him with affection and say such things as, “you look so good”, “oh my goodness look at all you can do”, etc. Yes, I agree Ryley is an inspiration but not because he has come back from a traumatic injury but because he is Ryley! This is so vitally important to understand. Ryley needs to move forward in his life and to live the fullest life possible. He wants so much to go back to the way things used to be but we all know that’s not possible, but you can help. Just remember, Ryley is still Ryley and just because he is in a wheelchair he doesn’t need special treatment. Also, don’t let his disability make you uncomfortable….. I’ve witnessed some folks awkwardly approach Ryley. Treat him as you would any other person you would encounter. A close friend? Then a hug might be in order. Perhaps a handshake? Then a fist pump is appropriate. Ryley is still Ryley…don’t forget that and don’t treat him any different than you would anyone else. We will be packing Ryley up in less than 30 days and sending him back to UNCW as we would have over a year ago. Although this poses its own set of challenges Ryley needs to live and UNCW was a very big part of his life. His friends, his fraternity brothers and University officials are all ready for his homecoming. A bunch more prep is required for all the things he will need in his new home away from home and he will have one extra person along for the adventure. Mom is going back to school…well for at least the first month as we set up 24/7 personal aide support for Ryley in Wilmington. Kim will add several more nights to the already 196 nights away from home since the accident. But this is what parents and moms do…anything for their kids.
We continue to be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of support you have all provided to our family over the past year. I can’t possibly thank each and every one of you personally but know that you mean so much to us. As Ryley heads into the next chapter of his life he will continue to need special services and assistance, much of which is not covered by insurance, so he can live the best life he can. What can you do? The HelpHopeLive fund for Ryley remains open to accept your tax deductible donation OR you can just walk right up to Ryley and give him a big confident fist pump. Either will help more than you know!

We love you all!