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Personal Stories

Hero Tribute – Ryan’s Story

My son Ryan was far from your average 15-year-old. He was wild, ornery, stubborn, but most importantly – adventurous. He was well known for his photos from atop of downtown buildings. He rode his bike miles a day and he loved summertime and swimming. Ryan could do backflips like a gymnast. He would always get his friends into things he shouldn’t and loved jumping off bridges into the river and going swimming at the first sign of warm weather. He was known as the “Finesse Kidd” to his friends.

Ryan had friends from all walks of life. Rich or poor, he didn’t care because he never met a stranger and if you were his friend, he loved you with his whole heart.  He could finesse any situation to benefit him. Except going to school. Ryan was a freshman at Zanesville High School and he felt no need to go. Every day was a struggle.

Now I think that just possibly he knew he was leaving us sooner than we wanted and was trying to live the best life he could.

Ryan loved goats. He would let out a loud “Bahhhh!” at the worst times. His teachers would attest to that.

Sadly, Ryan eventually let his adventures get the best of him and died from a car accident. My adventurous, outrageous son was sitting in the window yelling and having a good time with his friends when the driver lost control of the car and he was ejected. He fought hard for eight days before we knew it was time. Ryan donated his organs and was able to save two lives.

No parent can actually have peace in losing their child… but knowing Ryan helped others helps. He made sure another could have a happy, healthy life. That is something good coming out of our tragedy.

Ryan Leo Tullius left behind a loving family and so many close friends who miss him beyond measure. Ryan was the youngest of six and we are a very close family. He was an uncle to his oldest brother‘s children. One of his nephews, James, is now six but he is very much following in Uncle Ryan’s footsteps. He remembers his uncle doing bicycle tricks and riding skateboards. Ryan’s friends stop by often to tell James about “Finesse Kidd” stories.

Ryan’s death was very unexpected and we weren’t prepared to lose him. We visit the Lifeline of Ohio Donor Memorial often and tell his story to everyone. We are hoping he is also remembered for his final act of donation when people recall him and his adventures. Donating Ryan’s organs was never questioned. We proudly display Donate Life license plates and stickers on our vehicles.  We are very proud to tell everyone Ryan provided life for others and we hope that hearing his story helps others to choose donation.

Ryan will never be forgotten and he will always be our hero thanks to donation.


Thank you to Ryan’s mother, Kathy, for sharing his story with us.

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