Ryan Roberts wasn’t even two years old but he inspired thousands of families worldwide to host ‘banana split parties’ in his honor. He died July 8 after battling his entire life with Down syndrome and a congenial heart defect.
“I love and miss my HERO so much already,” Ryan’s mother, Diane Roberts, wrote on her Facebook page July 8. Diane and her husband, Erik Roberts, made the painful decision to issue a Do Not Resuscitate Order for their son. After four surgeries, doctors told Ryan’s parents that there was nothing more that could be done.
The terminal-ill toddler’s story captivated the nation when friends of Ryan’s family created a Facebook page that encouraged families to have banana split parties in order to create lifelong memories with their children.
“Through all of this, their one wish for their son Ryan is for everyone to have a banana split for dinner, because Ryan will never get the chance to have one,” the event read. With more than 79,000 members, the event touched the hearts of families worldwide, with photos posted from families in Italy, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.
Ryan died on July 8 after what his mother describes as an agonizing fight. “His last breaths were grueling and I HOPE that NOBODY ever has to go thru that pain themselves,” she posted on her Facebook page.
But families continue to display their sorrow and well-wishes to a little boy they never got to meet. “R.I.P Baby Angel Ryan, you are in Gods arms now! May your family find peace in the wonderful memories of you,” Darlene Pecoraro wrote on July 10.
A private celebration of Ryan’s life will be held on July 13 in Pittsburgh. Others can honor Ryan by writing memorial messages on balloons and releasing them into the sky at 8:30 p.m. on that day.
– Christina Stiehl
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