Ryan Sojda of West Seneca became an organ and tissue donor upon his passing in March 2014.

His parents Toni Lynn and Kevin shared this remembrance.

Ryan Eric, “Our Hero, Our Warrior”

Back in 1987 as we prepared for the birth of our first child, Kevin and I were looking at baby names. Kevin was absolutely certain we were having a boy and wanted to make sure that he had a strong name. As we looked at names and their meanings he found Ryan, which means “The King”, “A Warrior.”

From the moment we laid our eyes on Ryan Eric Sojda on February 18, 1987 we knew we chose the right name. He was a fighter from the very beginning. Born with a slow resting heart rate, he was immediately moved to the NICU, where he had to spend 3 weeks before he came home to Mom and Dad. We had many tests and sleepless nights but home he came! He was not a sleeper for sure, and Dad spent many nights walking him around our small apartment telling him stories. He would make them up as he walked, sometimes delirious from lack of sleep and Ryan would fall sound asleep.

When he was 2 ½ and we realized he was our “special” boy, again he went through rounds and rounds of testing with no real answers. All we knew was he was energetic, silly, happy and full of life! Ryan could always put a smile on your face. He could “test” you at times too, but then immediately give you a hug and you would melt.

He didn’t know many words, but he was so adept at sign language that by the time he got out of preschool, he knew well over 500 signs! From the time he was a baby all the way through his life, he loved to be read too, loved to tell you stories about what he saw on the pages. He loved the book “Rainbow Fish,” loved the fish sharing his scale with everyone. And the “Giving Tree,” although he had so many favorites, it would take forever to put them down. He loved going to the library – we went all the time when he was little. When we weren’t reading to Ryan he would look at magazines and even the phone book or newspaper ads. Anything to be checking out new things!

When you become an organ donor, you live on through others, your heart is still beating, your lungs still breathing. Ryan has become our very own Rainbow Fish.

He loved music. Raffi was his passion. He knew the words to every Raffi song. Dad and Ryan went to the one and only Raffi concert in Buffalo. He knew every inflection in Raff’s voice, every movement he made in every song. Every word was memorized. We sang “When you wake up in the morning – every morning!”

He loved Disney – he was our Goofy! Every trip to Florida was exciting with Ryan. True, he didn’t like the fireworks, but boy did he love the characters. Roger Rabbit was a hit! PPPLLEAAASSEEE! And he loved the Muppets. Every Muppet movie out, he saw a thousand times. He had all the lines memorized. We sang them all the time. When we hear them we still think of Ryan.

Someone once told me, Ryan will be your boy forever. Always there to give you hugs and be your boy. I just knew when Ryan had his accident he would want to help other people. Ryan really never complained about being hurt or in pain, but you knew if you looked into his eyes. He had a huge loving heart. He was really misunderstood for a lot of his life and never really had a voice. He now has a voice and is our Hero. Forever. Till we see you again – our little king, our little warrior.

Do you know someone who has been touched by organ, eye or tissue donation?

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