Ryan is a 24-year-old veteran and cancer survivor. Having grown up in Illinois, he is a huge Chicago Cubs fan. Coming from a military family, it was always his goal to join the U.S. military.
Three years ago, he got that chance. Ryan joined the Florida Air National Guard, a part of the air reserve component of the U.S. Air Force.
While in training at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, a tumor was discovered in his hip. Two biopsies and many tests later, Ryan was diagnosed with stage IVB Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the most advanced stage.
His largest tumor, which had wrapped around the bone in his left hip, left him temporarily unable to walk. He began six months of physical therapy and chemotherapy, followed by six weeks of radiation.
Fortunately, almost a year after his diagnosis, Ryan went into remission. His battle with cancer was over. To celebrate his remission, Ryan wanted to return to his roots in Illinois.
A Life Adventure for me means family. As a part of my Life Adventure, I plan to go back to my home state of Illinois and have the chance to see family and friends I haven’t seen in almost 2 years. It’s also a celebration of life and enjoying the fact that I am here and can get to see the people that were so supportive throughout such a challenging time in my life.
We knew right away we wanted to send Ryan to the Chicago Cubs game of a lifetime. What we didn’t expect was the unbelievable connection Ryan would have to his favorite Cubs player, Anthony Rizzo.
Chicago Cubs first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, was also diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a young adult. At 18 years old, he was forced to put his new baseball career with the Boston Red Sox on hold while he underwent six months of chemotherapy. Rizzo is now in remission, playing for the Cubs, and has started a foundation benefiting cancer research and the families fighting the disease.
Through the generosity of Anthony, his foundation, and the Cubs organization, we were able to send Ryan and his best friend, Cathryn, to an unforgettable Cubs game. They were able to meet Anthony in person and tour the dugout during batting practice.
Getting to stand on field at Wrigley was a dream come true. Sitting in the dugout watching batting practice is something not a lot of people get to do, and it was the best seat in the house. I also got to meet the Cubs All-Star first baseman, and my favorite player, Anthony Rizzo.
To finish his trip, Ryan returned to his hometown of Springfield Illinois where he was able to visit with friends and family.
Heading to Springfield to see all of my old friends and family was so rewarding. Seeing all of my friends and family after all the support and love they showed me going through such a challenging time. Being able to show them that after all the treatments how I have recovered and how healthy I am was a great feeling. It made all the issues and struggles of treatment worth it to get to see my niece and nephews.