How tragedy can result in community building
The Taylor Family moved to Stouffville in 2007 with their children Ryan and Kayla. A few years later their third child, Abby was born. Their oldest, Ryan, started playing hockey with the Stouffville Clippers as soon as they moved, he was in grade 3. He continued on with the Rep league through most of high school. Hockey was his passion. Since he was young, Ryan helped his dad, Rob, with the family business – R & I Lawncutting Plus Inc. He got his driver’s license as soon as he could, then he was able to drive the company truck and help push snow for the company in wintertime. He helped until he went off to Fanshawe College to study landscape design, often returning home to help the business clear snow during big events in mostly Toronto and Scarborough.
But it was the year of the college strikes. School was weird, and Ryan returned home to help the business. Rob was ready to transition to be a full-time fire fighter for the Town. Ryan would be taking over the lawn cutting and snow removal business. He was excited and had many, many plans for expansion. One week after Ryan took the reins of the business, on 14 July 2019, Ryan passed away in an unfortunate drowning incident in cottage country. For weeks, Rob could still see the lines in grass from Ryan’s last day of grass cutting.
Rob, Sandra, Kayla and Abby were devastated. It was nothing they could have prepared for. “The support from neighbours and friends was amazing,” said Rob, “they brought food and friendship. It meant a lot and helped us.” Ryan’s best friend bought the business and has renamed it Black Diamond Property Maintenance Inc. Rob mentored him for two years. To this day many of Ryan’s friends still come by their Hoover Park area house regularly to visit.
The Taylor’s made plans for a memorial golf tournament and car rally in Ryan’s name in 2020, then COVID came and disrupted everything. “We squeezed it in between lockdowns,” said Rob. “And we captured just over $22,000 for charity,” added Sandra. “We want to remember Ryan. He is with us every day and every minute. I never really knew why people held such tournaments. Now I do – we want to talk about and remember him,” she paused, “There is no normal after something like this.” Rob added that people naturally became a little ‘weird’ around them, not knowing what to say or how to say it. “I’d prefer that they acted normal and realize that we desire to celebrate Ryan’s living days. This would bring us joy.”
Despite COVID, the Taylor’s started planning the 2nd annual RT18 Ryan Taylor Memorial Day – ‘18’ being the number from Ryan’s hockey jersey. They had plenty of help from close neighbours and friends. It was to be a day of golf, and for those non-golfers – a Family Adventure Challenge. The Challenge was a bit of a scavenger hunt that required travel across the countryside by car, solving riddles and performing challenges. “We’ve done rallies like this in the past for 10 years straight,” said Sandra, “and Ryan loved the rallies. He and Rob together won the last rally we did.” Twenty car-groups participated in the 2021 RT18 Memorial Day Family Adventure Challenge.
There was also a silent auction that performed extremely well. “We would have liked to have a dinner and a banquet on tournament day,” said Rob, “but COVID made it logistically impossible.” Because of the challenges, they held the charity cheque passing ceremony to the charities they supported on a different date – September 7.
On this day, with over $25,000 raised, a close-knit group of family, friends and volunteers came together at Bethesda Park. Solemn and uplifting speeches were made, while cheques were handed out to great charities – Bereaved Families of Ontario, York Region (providing support services to families grieving the death of a loved one); Kids First Fund (supporting local disadvantaged children and their dreams to play hockey); and, Whitchurch-Stouffville Emergency Care Fund (providing support to residents affected by a fire, car accident or other tragedy, including medical emergencies).
The Taylor’s have already begun planning 2022. If you see them around town, consider sharing a memory or let them know that you remember Ryan too.
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