My Dream is to go to Heinz Field, watch the Steelers play, and meet Antonio Brown!
Ryan is a 13-year-old from Monroe, NC, who loves to play football and basketball. His mother describes Ryan as “a strong and resilient young man who has experienced and witnessed a lot in his 13 years.” As a result of some very difficult times in his life, Ryan has been diagnosed with a life-altering condition with an adjustment disorder. Ryan sometimes isolates himself and struggles to make friends or participating on teams for fear that he might not be accepted. Ryan has experienced bullying due to his size and social struggles. Consequently, all of this has made it challenging for Ryan to actively participate in the sports he loves so much. Watching NFL and cheering for Antonio Brown and the Steelers every weekend on TV has given Ryan something to look forward to and helped Ryan to feel like part of a team.
Ryan has a tremendous support system in his mother, Effie, who works as a care provider for those with developmental disabilities. He also shares his home with his sister, Shamieka, his grandmother and six cousins. With a family so large, there is a lot going on day to day. However, Ryan and his family continue to work hard to develop strategies that will help Ryan develop the skills he needs to connect with others. His mother reminds them that “Ryan has shown courage in a time of adversity in his life. He is a young man with a determination to beat the odds.” It’s possible, this explains Ryan’s appreciation of Antonio Brown. Ryan shared with us that he looks up Antonio because “he is a really nice person and the best wide-receiver in the league!”
Ryan deals with an “invisible disability” that makes it very difficult for others to understand the challenges he faces each day. Having this opportunity, for his sports dream to come true, could possibly be a game-changer for Ryan. He will be lifted up and treated as a VIP and hopefully this will give him the opportunity to step out and connect with other athletes and sports fans who love all the same things as Ryan!