Ryan and Cindy K

In 2002, Ryan Kerr was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer. His mother, Cindy Kerr, began making pillowcases to brighten up his hospital room and to put a smile on his face. He loved it and she began making pillowcases for other children with cancer at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Ryan was a most remarkable young man. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 12, his life was forever transformed. Over six years he fought through 5 recurrences of his cancer, 30 months of chemotherapy, 15 surgeries (including the amputation of his right leg), over 150 days of physical therapy and two broken bones in his healthy foot. Despite all of that, Ryan never let it slow him down!

Ryan loved adventures — big and small. He loved to go new places, to do new things and to launch off anything with a drop —a half pipe, a ski jump or a railing. Skiing with him was both a joy and sheer terror. He was constantly darting in and out of the woods, flying off the nearest bump and speeding down the hill with an incredible grace and aggressiveness. He always wanted to challenge himself with something new — rock climbing, scuba diving, cycling - you name it, he wanted to do it.

Ryan's courage is nearly legend. His friends were constantly amazed by his adventures and how he would finish chemo one day and ski the next. Few people will ever understand how difficult it was for Ryan to just put on his leg and go through a normal day of school. He was always exhausted and was in pain much of the time. But he would never show it so that he could be with his friends and be in school where he loved to do his photography, hang with his friends and be a part of class discussions.

As a student, he was so curious, so engaging and so kind that he stole his teachers' hearts. He missed countless days of school yet somehow still managed to keep up with his school work and graduate from high school. Ryan never wanted to be known at the school as the cancer kid or even as an inspiration. He wanted to just be Ryan, fitting in with all the other students, no special treatment — except, of course, he loved the perks of the elevator key and the great parking spot!

He was a young man with a wisdom and maturity that so far exceeded his age that he surprised each person he met. Ryan saw beauty in everyone and everything. He learned to be a deeply compassionate, thoughtful young man with a wicked wit, a winning smile and the world's best hugs. Most of all, he lived his life with such joy and courage that he inspired thousands of people in our community and around the country. We are very sad to lose one of the best friends we will ever know, but are thankful for his memory, his inspiration and the light he brought to the world.

In 2008, Ryan lost his very brave battle with cancer but the pillowcase project - now a not-for- profit called ConKerr Cancer — A Case For Smiles - has grown in amazing ways. In just three years, Cindy and tens of thousands of volunteers have provided over 73,000 pillowcases to sick children in 87 hospitals across North America and in South Africa. School groups, sewing circles, church groups and fabric stores have all pitched in and are making pillowcases for the kids.

ConKerr Cancer has had a profound effect on the families we have already reached, and we are deeply committed to providing even more pillowcases — and smiles! — to sick children everywhere. ConKerr Cancer is dedicated to Ryan and the thousands of children like Ryan who bring such courage and light to the world, despite their life changing illness. ConKerr Cancer is our way to keep their light alive.

Story courtesy of www.conkerrcancer.org.

Submitted by Anonymous


Caring
Pass It On®
Pass It On®

  email

Your Comments
Here are some other inspiring stories you might like.
KINDNESS
WENDY T Wendy was my wife of 4 years. We dated in high school, over 30 years ago. Eight years ago, we reconnected, and fell in love all over again. I quickly became attuned to why she was so special: Her kindness. I had never met anyone before, who showed as much kindness to everybody, as Wendy had. It wasn't one...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
LORI R. In 2012 Lori, along with her then high school age daughter Shira, began to keep their vehicle filled with pet supplies to hand out to the pets living on the streets of Riverside, CA with their homeless companions. They would give out pet food, leashes, collars and water so the pets would be fed well and kept...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
BRAVERY
HARRIET TUBMAN Harriet Tubman freed 300 slaves she was so brave that is why she is my hero
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
CARING
BETTY DRUCK I want to tell you about my grandmother,she is in her late 50's,she has spent everyday of her life caring for everyone she meets.She has had multiple surgeries and other problems of her own and yet she has given everything for her family,she has spent every christmas with my dad,even when she was in other...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
WISDOM
JAHSEH O There are many heros I look up to, but Jahseh Onfroy helped me through the darkest times in my life. His music did not only help me but it helped countless people. When he spoke to us, it was always about growing and becoming better than what we are. I have learned many valuable lessons from him, and I constantly...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
KINDNESS
MOTHER TERESA Mother Teresa was born in Albania and left her home country very early in life. She lived in Ireland to learn English, and ultimately went to India where she resided until her death. She was a beacon of hope for many. She did not look to caste, class, religion, skin color, or any other identity to separate...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
HELPING OTHERS
SAWYER A. After learning about children and families in the poverty-stricken villages of Zambia; a country in south-central Africa, Sawyer Anderson wanted to help bring clean, safe water to the villagers. At age 9, Sawyer wrote and illustrated the book, Water Works, which is published in America, Vietnam (in Vietnamese)...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
STRENGTH
ANDRE D On May 2, 2014 Andre' MY HUSBAND at the age of 42 suffered a massive heart attack, he was without oxygen to his brain for several minutes. It caused an Anoxic Brain Injury and other problems such as cortical blindness, seizures and he is bedridden for the rest of his life and resides in a nursing home. The...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
BEING THERE
BK SAINI SAINI My husband helped me since he knew me since 1975. He is there for me every single day. He is so kind all the time. He took care of me during any need except not when he is at the job. He comes at home if any emergency arrives. For God’s grace he was never called till today. I still remember when our second baby...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
COMPASSION
CHARLIE SCHULZ My son, Charlie, was an inspiration to many during his 19 years on this earth. When Charlie was in 5th grade, despite what we learned later was severe social anxiety, their strong sense of what was right led them to circulate petitions among their 5th grade schoolmates and write and present a statement (through...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
ACHIEVEMENT
AXANA SOLTAN Axana’s steadfast commitment to service made her not only an international voice of activism, but also a champion for the minorities. For the year of 2018-2019, Axana was selected as one of the United Nations finalists to serve as the U.S.A Youth Observer at United Nations Headquarters. The following year, Axana...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
MENTORING
MISTY WELLS 5 Years ago Misty saw a need in children in Foster Care and she took action. For the past 5 years going strong Misty started a non profit called " A Reel Future" where she takes children in Group Foster Care fishing. She has single handed taken over 3,000 foster children fishing. She is showing them...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
CARING
TISH R My former wife is an amazing individual. She works as a behavior analyst, and has been helping injured others achieve a much greater quality of life. In one of my proudest specific memories, she facilitated a transition for a man who was in an ALF, brain-injured, from wearing diapers in a wheelchair to...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
PEACE
DANA W Grieving (Fly High Dana Wilson Jr.) On March 7, 2022 my only little brother passed away at home in his bed. This has been one of the hardest things to deal with. I dont think a day goes by that i dont find myself breaking down crying. I think my eyes are puffy did alot of crying yesterday..omg this is really...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
LOVE
AMARA OKEKE My hero is my late mother Since 2000, she fells sick. She was diabetic, all my life I have taken care of her , I abandoned my school, my Visa and career to taken care of her , after 19 years of my sufferings she died last two Saturdays..I was actually 6 years when I started cooking, doing house chores for my...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
FAMILY
PAT C Next to his faith in God, the most important thing in my Dad’s life was his family; my Mom who was the love of his life, his kids, grandkids, great grandkids, brothers, and sisters. One of the ways he made life better for all of us and left his fingerprint on our lives was through the use of what I like to call...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
Where did your values come from?

We've all had people in our lives who have made a positive impact on us. A parent or grandparent, a sibling who was there for us, or maybe even just a guy who shines shoes for a living? Whoever they are, tell us their story so they can inspire us even more.

Tell Us Your Story All Everyday Hero Stories