On July 17, 2014, our amazing seven-year-old boy, Ryan was killed in a horrific boat accident. We were on vacation in Lake Burton, Georgia with our extended family, having the time of our lives. Earlier that day, we commented that it was like heaven, and we dreamed of spending future summers there. One second we were having a wonderful time and the next our beloved son was gone. We were experiencing every parents’ worst nightmare. It was impossible to get our heads around how this could be happening and how we would go on.
We loved and admired Ryan beyond words. He was incredibly smart, funny, fearless, full of love, and simply a joy to be around. He loved music and was always happy to show off his dance moves. Ryan’s sense of humor seemed far beyond his years and he had great comedic timing. We used to joke that he could be the next Jimmy Fallon. He was both an old soul and a sweet little boy. Ryan was just really cool. Countless people told me that his smile lit up the room and brightened their day.
In the days and weeks following the accident, we were overwhelmed by an incredible outpouring of love. There were no words that could ease our pain, but the demonstration of love inspired and comforted us; especially when it came from strangers. Our friends, colleagues, staff and parents from the elementary school, along with the entire West Boynton Little League community wrapped their arms around us. I could not get the phrase “love in action” out of my head and could literally feel the prayers of so many lifting us up. We knew our lives were forever changed and we had to find a way to give comfort to others as it had been given to us.
Ryan loved stuffed animals and had a dream to have a million (which I regretfully told him was not practical). He also dreamed of one day becoming Santa Claus and a great second baseman like Dustin Pedroia from the Boston Red Sox. Ryan’s dreams inspired The Ryan Batchelder Foundation, aka Little Hugs in our hope to continue shining his beautiful light and send love out into the world.
Meg Fitzgerald Batchelder