Ryan Fischer’s legacy goes far beyond himself. Ryan was a beloved son, brother, teammate, and friend. He was a leader in all that he was involved in and was known as an outgoing and compassionate human being. He was not by all means perfect, but was one that people looked up to and strived to live like. Ever since he died in his sleep on March 7, 2014 from heart arrhythmia, Ryan’s legacy has lived on.
Mr. Breazeale, Grandville’s hockey coach, watched Ryan grow up next door and was able to coach him in high school. “Ryan was a wonderful person, full of great things, but he was also human. He was always focused on continual improvement,” Breazeale assures. Whether it be on the ice, field, classroom, or church, Ryan strived to better himself and others around him. He knew when to be serious and focus on reaching his goals, but he also knew when he could be goofy. Kelsea Fischer, Ryan’s older sister says that something unique about Ryan was his “uncanny ability to belt out Bing Crosby’s White Christmas at any time of the year. Somehow, he would always draw a crowd and people would listen — that performance always seemed to capture the moment.”
Mr. Lancto had the opportunity to coach Ryan on the football team and advise him on National Honor Society. Lancto states, “The things he valued were being kind to others and having a strong moral character when it comes to right and wrong. He did not do everything right, but that’s good to hear about him because it shows that even with failure, you can still be exceptional.”
Ryan’s legacy has not only had a huge impact in Grandville, but it also has inspired other schools in the area. At Wyoming High School, “Ryan Fischer’s legacy has impacted 5,000 students over 5 years and has recognized 54 Alpha Wolf 11 Champion of Character students who exhibit the characteristics of being kind, compassionate and gracious to all – just like Ryan,” Mr. Doyle, a teacher at Wyoming states. Mr. Doyle started the Alpha Wolf 11 program that recognizes someone who on a scale from 1-10, is an 11 in all they do. Ryan’s legacy has spread to Coopersville High School, as they have an EPIC 11 award, and other high schools across the state through hockey. Mr. Breazeale adds, “I think the coolest thing is that his legacy lives on in the sport that he loved most of all and on the team he loved most of all.”
Ryan’s legacy continues through two scholarships under his name, the Ryan Fischer Legacy Scholarship and the Ryan Fischer Bulldog Scholarship. Applicants must be of high moral character, demonstrate a strong faith in God, a love for this country and be committed to community service just like he was. Kelsea explains, “Applicants are to write two short answer questions about Ryan’s legacy and how they wish to leave their own legacies. They also write an essay based on Ryan’s ideals of their choosing and what it means to them. Applicants are rated according to how these morales are incorporated and shown throughout their applications.”
So far, five awards have been given out for each scholarship, making a total of ten recipients of a Ryan Fischer Legacy scholarship. Bella Buck, the first recipient of the Ryan Fischer Bulldog Scholarship in 2015 says, “It was an amazing honor to have been chosen as the first recipient. I remember that I had quite a few classmates who would have been worthy recipients as well, so to be the one was very special. It was a great way to end my time in high school, while also being reminded of the legacy that Ryan left. I think it impacted my future time in college, acting as a reminder to Live Like Ryan and enjoy every adventure that was thrown my way, and to do everything with honor and passion.”
Ryan Fischer’s legacy is one that has inspired the community to live a life like Ryan did.
Kelsea adds, “He may not be here with us physically, but his legacy lives on through the halls of Grandville and throughout the entire Grandville community as a constant reminder to leave our own legacies. It means so much to our family that people choose to live like Ryan and strive to live a life like he did, ultimately making the world a better place.”