Ryan Custer is a loving son and brother, a loyal friend and teammate. He’s also an inspiration.
The 20-year-old has a passion for basketball, eats three Chick-fil-A sandwiches for lunch when his former coach visits, and is interested in the stock market. He keeps any room light with his jokes.
The 6-foot-7, 200-pound former basketball standout, at his core, is a fighter.
There is a spirit of determination that knows no bounds this winter as Custer lives with a partial paralysis.
“I say all the time that Ryan carries the day,” his father, George Custer said. “His attitude is awesome. Every morning he has a smile on his face. He looks at it bravely and carries on.”
Nearly 10 months after the Wright State basketball player and former Elder High School standout suffered a critical spinal cord injury in which he shattered his C5 vertebrae in a makeshift pool accident near Miami University, his approach to life has impacted more people than he could ever imagine.
“I thought I was going to be a kid who did not want to go out at all and just sit in my room and feel sorry for myself,” Ryan said in the family’s living room in late January. “As soon as I realized that this couldn’t beat me I started fighting it and never looked back.”
The choice to enjoy life wasn’t always easy in the first few months. He was in the intensive care for two weeks at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after the incident.
He had therapy in Chicago and Denver before returning back home more than four months later (Aug. 30).
There are still good and bad days for Ryan and his parents, George and Kim, and his three siblings — Nick, Danielle and Mckenzie.
Ryan wants to make the most out of every day despite not having feeling below his chest.
His therapist recently told the family that Ryan is able to stand for 25 minutes on a standing frame with support from others for his balance.
However, the injection of some 10 million stem cells last summer in Chicago has not had the impact the family had hoped for at this point. There are other possible studies that could help him in the future, but Ryan and his family have to remain patient. It is a test of faith.
Nights can still be lonely at times; his mind can start to wander. But mornings bring new promise.
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