On June 15th Ryan Vandervlis, centre for the WHL Lethbridge Hurricanes, suffered critical injuries in a campfire accident. He is now recovering at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary where he is heavily sedated to aid healing, facing months of recovery and multiple surgeries. We, the friends of Ryan and his family, have established this fund to assist with the costs associated with his recovery.
As friends of Ryan we would like to share why he is an amazing individual. It is difficult to express in words what this young man truly means to so many people.
Ryan was born and raised in Red Deer and has impacted so many of us with his loyal, fun-loving, charismatic nature. Growing up he has been involved in many sports, including ice hockey, inline hockey, soccer, volleyball, basketball, badminton, cross-country skiing, water activities and many more. Every sport that Ryan touches he is exceptional at. While his focus on teamwork, hard work ethic and strength in strategy have allowed him to excel in all sports, he decided to focus his athletic energy on his true love, hockey. His passion for hockey grew at the neighbourhood outdoor rink where he spent hours skating and shooting. Often the rink was filled with family and friends attracted there by Ryan’s welcoming invitation and for many, it was a true joy to watch him develop his natural talent on the ice. Ryan’s passion for hockey grew even more over the 10 years he spent playing with Red Deer Minor Hockey association. His hockey proficiency gained him a position with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and his amazing talents continue to benefit their organization. He has been playing for the Hurricanes for four years and has become a true leader on and off the ice.
Meghan Calder, Ryan’s billet mom in Lethbridge, reported many stories about Ryan’s true integrity. “I have been given amazing stories about Ryan in our community. Ryan’s influence is felt in so many areas. In one story, Ryan plays street hockey with a young family in the city and they express how much they enjoyed his easy-going, friendly nature. Another story tells of his impact with local students, in which a student had not been able to share out loud in class until Ryan’s visit. Ryan makes those around him feel comfortable and confident. Teachers have shared their stories of Ryan’s visits to their classrooms where he shares positive messages about the importance of school and being kind. I was reminded of the time he spoke to a minor hockey team in the city about anti-bullying and the benefits his speaking provided for the team. Ryan has been seen in the community visiting the hospital with bears for sick kids and taking coffee to various businesses around Lethbridge”.
Ryan’s friends term Ryan as their “glue”. Ryan’s childhood friends can only express gratitude that his support and friendship has cultivated them into who they are today. Ryan has the amazing ability to find the good in every person he meets. His billet mom says it best: “Ryan is a natural leader. He brings people together. He is social, and funny, and comfortable in any setting. He can decorate Christmas cookies with my grandma, sons, niece and nephew one minute, join a BBQ with our friends the next, attend a 9 yr old birthday party at a moment’s notice, help the rookies on the team with training, meet the team chaplain for lunch, and join the PR staff to take out coffee and donuts to community members. Ryan is always willing to do whatever he can for others.”
“Lethbridge has known strong team leaders in past seasons. I can remember Ryan asking if he would be able live up to the example of team leaders like Tyler Wong. I told him to be himself and it would all fall into place; people would appreciate him if he was genuine. And he truly is that, genuine.” Ryan’s family values of sincerity and genuineness is apparent to everyone and a compliment to his parents, Barb and Rene.
Ryan is best known as an athlete, but his creative spirit and strong academics are obvious. Ryan helped many of his school friends navigate through junior high and high school. Ryan has an interest in attending university and will champion that next chapter of life with great ease.
Ryan has naturally impacted and fulfilled our lives with all his gifts. With all that he has done for us, we would like to help our amazing friend, Ryan, during his time of need.
Rene & Barb Vandervlis along with his siblings Cara, Sean, and Rachel remain with Ryan in Calgary. The Vandervlis family have always been an integral part of our Red Deer Community. Volunteering time and expertise has been a way of life for the Vandervlis family. Now the family needs our help, and we hope you’ll join us in sending positive thoughts and prayers to Ryan for a speedy recovery, to his family, to his friends, and to his hockey community.
Donations to cover the cost of meals and living expenses while in Calgary, and to support Ryan’s recovery would be deeply appreciated and will be provided directly to the family. Should donations exceed the actual cost of Ryan’s recovery, the excess amount will be donated in full to a not for profit organization or organization of Ryan’s choice.
The Vandervlis’ thank you for your thoughts, your prayers, and your support. They are overwhelmed by the kindness shown by friends, by community, and by strangers.