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30 Days of Remembrance: Ryan Thornton

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Ryan was a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, and a friend to so many. If you had a connection with Ryan, it was for life.

Ryan’s smile could light up a room. He was kind, compassionate, and the most nonjudgmental person I’ve ever met. His sense of humor would make you laugh until your stomach hurt. We always knew that Ryan was a good kid, but it wasn’t until his funeral that several kids came up and introduced themselves and shared stories that Ryan was the only one who sat with them in the cafeteria because they were being bullied and no one would sit with them. I also heard stories about Ryan defending kids against the bullies in school. Some friends just shared wonderful memories of hanging out with Ryan and deep talks that they had.

Ryan was the kid who could not wait for the day to begin. He would run into my room in the morning ready to plan and begin his day!

School was a challenge for Ryan as he could never sit still. He was an outdoor kid who loved being outside, loved to explore, and loved the beach. He took up skateboarding and snowboarding like it was his job. He had no fear. When he put his mind to something, he mastered it. He played sports for the love of the game, not for the love of the win. He longed to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Ryan loved music. He was an “old soul” who loved to play his guitar and often times would play music from back in the day. Music became somewhat of an outlet for him.

Ryan’s journey with addiction began at the young age of 17. What began as typical experimentation, partying, and peer pressure became self-medication, depression, and isolation. We saw a shift in his personality but would still get glimpses of the Ryan that we all knew was still in there.

A few years back during Ryan’s recovery, he decided to get a tattoo. He had the word “HOPE” tattooed on his arm. Hold On Pain Ends. I had tears in my eyes when he showed it to me as I could not even imagine what the pain of addiction was doing to my beautiful boy.

Ryan’s pain ended at the young age of 24. He is at peace and no longer battling the horrific disease of addiction. His one and only wish was that people would not judge or define him by his addiction. Ryan was so much more than that. He was a person, a beautiful human being who loved with his huge heart and that is how we will always remember him. Rest In Peace Buddy, we love and miss you more than you will ever know!

Thank you to the Renaissance House and Save the Michael’s for all that you do. Ryan began his recovery at Renaissance House. He then became involved with Save the Michael’s as a Recovery Coach and transported people to rehab facilities. He spoke at a high school to share his experiences and help others. Thank you to everyone that was there for Ryan during his long and difficult journey.

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