“Pay It Forward” for Sgt. Ryan!


This is a bit lengthy and I have a couple stories to tell before I get to the point. But it is a very good point. One about hope, perseverance, and courage. So please read it all. Then you can “Pay It Forward!” in your own way.

“Pay It Forward” was a great movie starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and this amazingly good young boy actor. The movie starts off with a reporter getting his car destroyed while trying to cover a story about a hostage situation. The perpetrator crashes out of his garage in his vehicle. That’s when the reporter’s car gets destroyed. The cops leave the reporter standing there in the rain as they pursue the suspect.

A stranger walked up and gave the reporter his Jaguar car and a card telling him to do something for three other people and then have them do something for three people and so on. The reporter thought it was a gimmick until he started doing some checking. Meanwhile, Trevor is trying to do his three things. But not all of his are working as he had hoped. He has just about given up.

It took the reporter four months to trace the whole thing back to the point of origin, the other side of the United States! He goes to this house and a young boy, Trevor, answered the door then calls his mom. The reporter tells her why he’s there. She says her son came up with the idea to help three people, then have them help three people and so on until it hopefully spread all over the world and helped make a difference. It was an assignment his teacher had given the class. They had all year to come up with a plan for doing something that could make a difference in the world.

The reporter looks back into the house and sees the boy, Trevor, eleven years old, playing with friends at his birthday party. He couldn’t believe it! They set up an interview at the school the next day. Afterwards Trevor helps his third person. He stops two bullies from beating up a small boy. One of the bullies stabbed Trevor. Trevor later died. He never knew his plan worked!

Trevor’s story and interview are broadcast on all the networks. People from all over the country come forward and told how their lives had been affected by “Pay It Forward.” As Trevor’s Mom and his teacher [their relationship was one of his three] sit at home and grieve, the teacher goes to look out the window at the sky. He sees all these people with candles and flowers. He gets Trevor’s Mom and they go outside. There are literally miles of people with flowers and candles at her fence and lined up down the highway to show their respect and their “Pay It Forward!” In Trevor’s interview he was asked about how his three things worked. He said not too well. He said he felt sometimes people were so used to something they were afraid to change or try something else. When asked if he could change anything he said it was too late because he already blew out his candles. That’s why all the people brought candles.

During the very early years of my illness three people came into my life and helped me. One was a social worker, one was a friend, the last was a cab driver.

When I first met my the Social Worker, I knew right away that what ever was wrong with me, she could help me, and she did. Anywhere from every day to several times a week I went to here office for help. When the panic attacks and flashbacks came [I didn’t know what they were for years] I called her and talked to her any time of the day or night either by phone or in her office. She taught me the meaning of trust and accepting help. She never charged me a dime because I didn’t have it. She saved my life! As long as I live I will never forget her.

Eventually I admitted myself to the hospital. Once I finally got out,about a year later, I had to go for blood tests once a month. But then my car broke down and I had to go by cab. On one of my trips for the blood test I got this really nice older gentleman. As we rode to the clinic we talked. Finally he asked about why I went for the blood tests. I told him I needed to make sure my medication level was OK every month. Then I told him why I took the medication. He picked me up every month for free after that. He would schedule other “drops” around my route. He never allowed me to pay.

The friend was a fellow patient I met in the hospital. He was a Paranoid Schizophrenic. I didn’t know it until months after we almost got married; but, he was as nutty as a fruit cake. He hated women and had tried to stab several. But for some reason we became instant friends. I got out before him. When he got out I rented him a room in my house. We played tennis together and drank coffee at every 7-11 in Northern Virginia. He was pretty good. I was a lousy tennis player. But he was patient and we always had fun.

No matter what time of the day or night it was, if I needed him, I could call him and he came and got me. Sometimes the panic attacks or flashbacks were so bad I couldn’t drive. I felt like the car was crushing me. Crowds made me the same way. But he would talk to me. Hold my hand and laugh and say you’re alright. You just don’t know it yet! He never made fun of me. He never got mad. At one point in our friendship we almost got married. Neither of us had ever had a really good friend and we didn’t realize that we were just friends.

The pre-marriage counseling at the Church drove him over the edge again. When I saw what was happening he took off in a snow storm to his sisters so I couldn’t get him in the hospital and restabilized. He was very paranoid. I later found out he was known all over the USA by the FBI and the Secret Service for threatening the Pope and President. Besides trying to stab several women, he also molested a neighbor’s son. God must have been looking out for me. He never tried to hurt me and we were true friends. He died several years later from a massive heart attack, his third. He was in his late thirties. I was very sad when I found out.

I like to think that for our two years of friendship he had one year of peace. Until he got sick he had never hurt anyone. Everything else came later after his Mom died and his ship, the USS Forrestal, had a terrible fire and he had to help identify the bodies and treat the surviving burn victims. He got sick after that and never was right again except for that one year in the beginning of our friendship. A nurse at the hospital that I met outside the hospital told me about him. She said sometimes the disease he had started that way in the twenties.

If you get this far, then I hope you remember that I told you I would tell you two stories, one from a movie, one true. Of course there was much more to each story. But, time and space don’t allow room. Then, also, everyone would get tired of reading before I got to my point.

“Mom in America” gave me a tip about a soldier who needs our help. His name is Sgt. Eddie Ryan, USMC. Eddie had wanted to be a Marine since he was twelve. I certainly understand that. I shared that dream myself. So after High School, just like me he joined the Corps. Our similarities ended there. In September of 2002 he went to Iraq. After he came home he went to sniper training and then returned to Iraq in March of this year. He was shot twice on April 13, 2005 this year by his own men accidentally. One shot hit him in the head. The other hit him in the jaw. Amazingly, against all the odds and the doctor’s predictions, Eddie survived. He is making remarkable progress.

Their out of pocket expenses for Eddies family are enormous. The military only pays their plane fair. But the family stays at his side night and day. His Sister quit school [college I believe], his Mom is out of work to be with him, and his Dad finally went back to work after four months. But his Dad makes the long drive every day after work to be with him. The family says Sgt. Ryan loves to get letters, especially from kids. He also loves to have pictures sent to him by the kids.

Mom in America says:“Eddie could use some help along the way. He’s getting the therapy he needs. Hospitals and Recuperation centers get lonely though, even with Mom there 24 hours a day. His sister comes as well and Dad is now coming right after work every day…. it’s about a 2 to 2 and 1/2 hour drive depending on traffic, each way. The thing is, Eddie loves to hear from people. He loves to see pictures drawn by kids. Eddie loves to connect with people in this way.

If you could send Eddie a card, a drawing by a child, a note, I’m sure he’d appreciate it! He loves getting mail!!!

You can mail Eddie at this address:

SGT. Eddie Ryan
4A Room 12
Helen Hayes Hospital Route 9W
West Haverstraw, NY10993

If you’d like to go find out more about Eddie, please go to http://www.recordonline.com

God bless!

A Mom in America”

If you can help Sgt. Ryan and his family, please do so. I know the cards, letters, and pictures from kids and people help his morale a lot. Morale makes a big difference in the road to recovery for injured soldiers. Those with brain injuries require a lot of help as their brains heal and they fight their way back to health. I already contacted the people at “Project Valour-IT” to see if they can help him. They are the people who helped Capt. Charles Ziegenfuss so he could start blogging again with a special computer. By the way, Chuck just had surgery again. I am sure he would love to hear from people as he continues to make his recovery.

When I was helped by my counselor and the cab driver, I told them both I didn’t know if or how I could ever repay either of them. Them both told me to forget it! Both said one day maybe I could help someone else out. Money wise I can’t do much for anyone. But I do try very hard to help in other ways. This is my way to “Pay It Forward!” Maybe you can all each do the same thing. I started a new link section in my side bar. If anyone knows a name of a soldier who has been injured that needs letters, cards, etc. let me know the web or blog and I’ll add it there. Maybe some others out there can do the same thing. Then as you visit back and forth take a look at the side bar and see if there is a name there so you can post a message or send a letter or some kind of donation to help them and their family. Just a thought! We can call it the “Pay It Forward” Campaign!

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~ by devildog6771 on October 31, 2005.

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