Visiting sick children is nothing new for Ryan, he’s been doing it for years. It’s a rewarding and humbling honor that must be experienced to fully understand. In September, 2008, while preparing to compete at the Dew Tour in Salt Lake City, Ryan learned about Utah native, Bridger Hunt, an 11-yearold boy who was injured by shrapnel from an explosion created by a homemade metal fireworks device. Doctors compared Bridger’s injuries to those sustained by soldiers hit by roadside bombs in Iraq, not by a little boy who was innocently riding his bike around the neighborhood. Shrapnel obliterated the bones in Bridger’s left hip, pelvis, hip joint, and upper left leg, leaving his leg hanging by a flap of skin. The shrapnel tore through his abdomen, intestines, colon, bladder, severed a 6-inch section of his femoral artery and femoral nerve, and lacerated a portion of his femoral vein.
Bridger Hunt now at 15 years old
Bridger’s life was spared by the life-saving efforts of neighbors and paramedics and by the miraculous work of the highly skilled team of emergency doctors and surgeons. Ryan had the privilege of meeting Bridger and his family just 2 months after the accident. Ryan was moved by Bridger’s attitude in the face of so much pain and uncertainty. The doctors said Bridger would never walk again, but Bridger’s smile told a different story. Though this young skater was weak and pale he was determined to prove the doctors wrong and his resolve was contagious. Ryan left Bridger with his skateboard, the trophy he had just won and a financial contribution for his rehabilitation.
Today, Bridger is a straight A student, who due to his hard work and determination is walking. When asked what Ryan’s visit meant to him Bridger’s mother, Mindy, said “He wasn’t suppose to live, let alone ever walk again. Meeting Ryan helped Bridger to recover, it made the difference between walking and not walking. “ Stories like this are why the Sheckler Foundation exists, allowing us to turn a simple request to visit a sick child into the opportunity to create sustainable change.