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Whiz Kid: Ryan Matthews, Tough and Unstoppable

Student athlete Ryan Matthews is doing his part to set the pace toward a breakthrough treatment for cystic fibrosis.

When you look at Ryan Matthews, you see a student, a tough lacrosse player, an ice hockey player and an all-around regular kind of guy--(Okay, except for his undeniable good looks and striking blue eyes). He works two jobs, makes good grades and volunteers at vacation bible school. (If you've ever seen a teenage guy managing a group of first graders at vacation bible school, then you have seen the true definition of volunteer work!) 

But there's more than meets the eye to this junior who attends Ryan Matthews takes more than 30 pills a day to maintain the health of his lungs and digestive system because he has  cystic fibrosis.

Accomplishments:

Ryan doesn't let cystic fibrosis get in his way. In fact, he faces his battle like any other sport--with dedication and confidence that he will win the "game." When Ryan isn't checking someone on the lacrosse field or skating like a bullet across the ice, he's managing the sport of good health with daily airway clearance therapy, breathing treatments and a series of medications designed to help him stay on top of cystic fibrosis. 

As you might have guessed, Ryan is the kind of student who looks at life through other's eyes too. He helps with fund-raising efforts for the Great Strides Walk to raise money for research for cystic fibrosis every year. This year, the Great Strides walk has about 60 people walking on Ryan's team, a determined group of fighters known as Ryan's Hope. The team has already raised more than $4,000 toward cystic fibrosis research. Clinical trials involving new oral drugs are underway and if successful, the treatments will add decades to Ryan's life as well as others who are managing cystic fibrosis.

 This Saturday, May 21, Ryan and his team will walk at Georgia Tech in the Great Strides event. The event starts at 8:30 a.m. and participants meet at the Atlanta-Georgia Tech Campus IC Courtyard located at 391 Ferst Drive. 

Keys to Success:

"Family and friends are a very important part of my life," says Ryan. "I believe having a positive attitude is very important in achieving what you want out of life. Something I like to live by is remembering that everyone is fighting some sort of battle--so no matter how others may act, treat everyone with respect."

Ryan sounds like someone who truly understands people as well as he understands himself. If everyone followed in his footsteps, imagine the strides we could all make on our journey through life.

If you don't have your walking shoes, you can still help by donating through the Great Strides Web site or by sending a check to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 860 Mountclaire Dr., Cumming, GA  30041.  

Trent Cornwell May 20, 2011 at 07:06 PM
Great article. I love about hearing about local heros. This is a super good story and I am glad you told it.
Stacey Howeth May 20, 2011 at 08:06 PM
Amazing! Always love to hear about another CF young adult doing well, and not letting it dictate to him. Pray that my daughter continues to have the same type of attitude with her CF as Ryan does.
Kristen Berry May 21, 2011 at 12:12 AM
Trent, thanks, Ryan's story was one of my favorites to write. What a cool kid...
Kristen Berry May 21, 2011 at 12:17 AM
Stacey, sounds like you are the kind of mom who has a very positive and strong influence on her daughter. CF is no competition for that kind of support.
Kelly Meadows May 26, 2011 at 12:48 PM
What an inspiring story! Know Ryan and he is as super a kid as he sounds like. His Mom is pretty awesome too!
Randy Sabatini May 29, 2011 at 03:44 PM
Having known Ryan and his family for many years, you capture the essence of a teenager with a kind soul, a passion for life, and an appreciation for the foundation of anyone's life-family and friends. Great article about a role model for everyone!
Kristen Berry May 29, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Randy, thanks for the comment--Ryan is one in a million. In my communications with his mom for writing this story, I can certainly see where he gets it!

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