About Ryan



Fund Activities


Ryan Tavis Conley

We read about it every day in the newspaper, kids getting in all sorts of trouble, kids doing drugs, kids being abused. "That's our world today" is the common lament.

In today's world, by those standards, Ryan Tavis Conley was anything but "normal". Ryan knew he was loved and wasn't afraid to say "I love you". He was growing up with very "hands on" parents. He was self assured, confident and well liked, not just by his close knit circle of friends, but also by the adults he interacted with. He was an enthusiastic and respected member of the Mt. Airy Akido dojo. He loved Akido, an ethical martial art, and was one of the youngest members to be awarded the red belt. Ryan touched people. To quote his father, Shawn Conley : "He was one of those kids who was just genuinely a good kid. He was the real deal".

On Monday, February 19, 2007, Ryan died while sledding on a hill at his home....a hill he'd been sledding on many times during his growing up years. In fact, a place he had been sledding just the day before. His death was an unforeseen and tragic accident, but he wasn’t alone…Ryan died with his mother holding his hand and his sister sitting beside him. He died while his father and his friends from the Lisbon Volunteer Fire Department were trying desperately to reach him in the gully where he had landed, but even their efforts were not enough, There was nothing anyone could do...his death was an accident....but he wasn't alone.

Since Ryan's death, everyone who loved him has said more than once "It will get better". Has it gotten better? The simple answer is no. All of us have gotten better at compartmentalizing our grief, at pushing the pain below the surface. Every year on Ryan’s birthday the family and close friends gather at the pond and float candles where he loved to swim, and smile to think that he would have liked to participate. We've written him notes telling him how much we miss him every day, and we've cried when something simple reminds us of Ryan. His friends and family remember him as a young man who helped others and who looked forward to becoming an airline pilot.

Over 600 people attended Ryan's viewing....and that was just a small percentage of those who called, wrote or sent flowers. His family, his friends, Glenelg High School, the Lisbon Fire Department, his Akido academy....those are just a few of the people Ryan touched, just a few of those who were impacted by this terrible tragedy.

How do you make something good out of this tragedy?

To honor Ryan, his family, in conjunction with Glenelg High School, has set up a scholarship in his memory. The intent of this scholarship is to assist with the costs of higher education or other worthy life plan for a deserving senior who is actively engaged in his/her community and demonstrates honor and respect for other students, staff members, and adults. Special consideration will be given to children of public servants, such as firemen, EMT, policemen, or teachers.


By Debbie Bauer, a family friend