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For Leo, In Memory of Ryan Frayne

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35 year old pancreatic cancer patient passes, leaving behind his newborn baby and wife. Thank you for helping us to spread their story and support them through this difficult time.

Our beloved son, brother, husband, father, friend peacefully lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday, June 5th at his childhood home in Tampa, Florida.


The Legacy of Ryan

While the whole of Ryan’s life is chock-full of fun, brilliant, and goofy moments worth celebrating, it is the past five years of gut-wrenching rollercoasters that leave behind a most memorable legacy.

Ryan was a thinker and a tinkerer. Where most people just complain about a problem, Ryan sought to solve it. When most people would have thrown in the towel, Ryan persisted on. Whether it be a knotless fish hook, easy-open tape, no-spill juice pack, or fast-inflation valve, Ryan just wanted to make his own (and as a result other’s) lives easier and better.

After years of moonlight inventing, in 2013 Ryan’s life would take a turn and start him on this wild ride that I still can’t believe is a true story. There is the Kickstarter success that pumped us all up on adrenaline and then his unforgettable appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank that had us all on the edge of our seats. But in between these two career defining highs, came two crushing diversions. At 32 years old, Ryan was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was simultaneously thrown into a battle with corporate evil, fighting for both his life and the life of his inventions (more in this Inc Magazine article about Ryan , written while all of this was going on).

But the story and ride didn’t stop there. In between Ryan’s battle with cancer and corporate demons, two more magical (now I’m talking real magic here) things happened.

Months after the airing of Ryan’s Shark Tank episode, a re-run caught the attention of a long-lost friend Ryan had had back in Seattle, Geneve Nguyen. Now, this is the girl that Ryan had had his heart set on in his early twenties, but nothing ever came of it and eventually the two lost touch. Fast-forward nearly a decade later, they reconnected, hit it off, and Geneve moved to New York, where Ryan had just recently relocated to undergo chemotherapy treatment.

One of the first things you’re asked when you start chemotherapy is if you have a significant other and if you’re planning to have any children. Most people don't know this, but Ryan once told me it was one of his biggest hopes in life to one day have a family.  This was before Geneve had come back into his life, before he even considered it a real possibility. Rounds upon rounds of chemotherapy gave Ryan’s hair a run for its money (from bald, to baby soft, to curly Frayne fro), so it was only natural that nearly everyone thought it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Ryan and Geneve to conceive. But, as always, Ryan defied what everyone else thought was possible. Two years after being diagnosed with cancer, Ryan and Geneve were expecting a baby girl.

Seven months into their pregnancy, Ryan and Geneve were told that Ryan’s cancer was not only becoming more aggressive, there was now nothing more anyone could do to manage it and that Ryan might only have weeks left of life. But again, Ryan persisted.

Leo Zelda-Rey Frayne was born on March 2nd, 2018. I remember getting the call from Ryan, who was high off the birth and in awe of what he and Geneve had created. Leo was perfect, in every single way. For the next three months, the new family cherished every moment together. And through the generosity of family and friends were able to share some very special moments.

Ryan and Geneve’s journey is a love story for the books. Leo is truly a miracle baby. Geneve's unconditional love and tender care for Ryan over the years is what solid marriages are made of. She is truly amazing, a real-life superwoman and I have no doubt that Leo will grow up to be just as amazing as her two parents.

A Memorial Dedicated to Ryan,  Geneve, & Leo

This memorial is created as a legacy. It gives us all a moment to remember the incredible life Ryan lived and a place to recall all our special moments we shared together over the years.

Ryan was a man of practicality. To him, flowers and funerals fade and would leave his family with a financial burden. It was Ryan’s wish that if anyone wanted to show their condolences by way of action, that they do so through contributions to Geneve and Leo. Through all the pain Ryan suffered, nothing compared to the worry he had of leaving his young family so early in their time together.

Any donation, no matter how small is greatly appreciated. While Ryan enjoyed some success in the spotlight on Shark Tank, what most people don't realize is that the three-year legal battle with corporate evil drained Ryan's energy, resulted in the deal from Shark Tank falling through, and eventually depleted his funds...virtually erasing all Ryan had worked so hard to achieve.

It is here, that Ryan once again took the unexpected road.  He didn’t choose to quit or give in to the pain and discomfort of the worsening cancer or let financial means become a setback. He continued, until the very end, to strive and invent, working long hours, in the hopes of creating a legacy for his young family. 

Contributions will be used to help take care of Geneve and Leo through this difficult time, their transition to a new home, as well as provide a sound foundation for their future. And who knows, perhaps we'll even have the opportunity to bring Ryan's late-day concepts to market, so he can continue to make life easier and better for everyone.

Remembering Ryan

“If I am going to pass away, at least I can leave something behind. Maybe a cool invention that many people can use for years to come,” said Ryan Frayne, the founder of Windcatcher. “I'd be happy knowing that.” - from Inc. article below

Shark Tank Clip 

Inc. Article 

Windcatcher Site 

Original Kickstarter Campaign


BRCA 1  & Pancreatic Cancer 


After Ryan's pancreatic cancer diagnosis, he discovered a genetic mutation known as BRCA 1 was at the root of his troubles. While cancer is something that has run amuck in our family for generations, until Ryan’s diagnosis, we did not know there was a very specific culprit to blame.

If you have the BRCA 1 mutation, you have a higher risk of prostate, pancreatic, ovarian, and breast cancers. Had Ryan known this early on, his doctors would have been more likely to screen for cancer. But for the first years of Ryan’s pain, doctors dismissed it as stomach ulcers…because to them, cancer for a 30-something year old would be highly unlikely.

I know it would be Ryan’s wish to share this information so that more people are made aware of the power and impact of our genes. Cancer knows many forms, but in Ryan’s case had he identified the genetic mutation earlier, he would have had an insurance-covered annual screening starting at age 25 and he potentially would have caught the cancer before it went beyond anyone’s control.

Now, there are some considerations one should take before undergoing genetic testing. Taking the test (regardless of your results) can impact your chance of securing life insurance, so it’s recommended to get life insurance before getting tested (Ryan didn’t have this luxury). There’s also the emotional impact information like this can have on families. That said, most medical insurances do cover one lifetime test and pioneers like Color  have made anonymous BRCA testing possible.

If you think your family might be at risk for cancer due to a genetic mutation consider learning more, getting tested, and kicking cancer early on.

“One of the doctors [at MSK] mentioned the story of how they caught Ruth Ginsburg's pancreatic cancer early as a result of their genetic screening. And if they catch it early, treating it, is as easy as scooping out ice cream.” – Ryan Frayne


Thank You

Ryan was very fortunate to have enjoyed a life surrounded by caring, selfless, loving, amazing individuals. A special thank you to Ryan's amazing in-laws, the Nguyen's, who each individually, in their own unique way cared and loved Ryan, welcoming him into their family from the get go. To Ryan's long-time friends Oren, Aaron, and Upkar to whom Ryan's life would not have been the same without. And to all those dear and near in Ryan's family who fed his imagination as a wee babe, fostered his wild ideas over the last few decades, and made the past three years more comfortable and complete - words can't even begin to express our gratitude. You all not only made Ryan's life more rich, you've touched us all.

Although we are all broken by Ryan’s passing, knowing his legacy will continue on through Leo and Geneve is what keeps us strong. We thank you with all our hearts.



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Donations 

  • Kean Ka Teoh
    • $10 
    • 4 yrs
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Organizer and beneficiary

Christina Frayne
Organizer
Tampa, FL
Geneve Nguyen
Beneficiary

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