An eighth grade student at Dartmouth Middle School, Ryan Schwyzer, was surprised when he saw family, friends, and even the Fire Department at his house one day after school. He learned that the Make-A-Wish Foundation had set up an above-ground swimming pool in his backyard.
“It meant a lot to me that everyone was there to show me that they cared for me,” said Ryan. He later learned that his surprise took three weeks to plan and he couldn’t be more thankful to those that were there to celebrate with him. He said he has been in the pool every day since it had been constructed on August 17th. The pool wasn’t the only surprise for Ryan that day, the Fire Department allowed him to explore the fire truck, put on a uniform, and even use the hose. “It went about, I don’t know, 20 feet,” said Ryan smiling.
Ryan was granted a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation because of his medical condition. He was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis which affects his respiratory and digestive systems. Due to his condition, Ryan is required to do a breathing treatment three to four times a day. However, his condition does not stop him from living life like any other kid his age. “I like playing basketball, riding my scooter, and rock climbing,” said Ryan.
“Ryan is one of those quiet leaders on campus,” said Dr. Jennifer Martin, Principal of Dartmouth Middle School. Dr. Martin met Ryan when she was Principal at Valle Vista Elementary School six years ago. “He never let his condition get in the way or use it as an excuse; he always found ways to adapt.” Dr. Martin said she admires Ryan’s determination and his ability to overcome adversity. “You wouldn’t realize he was at a disadvantage with his peers, he performs at such high levels both socially and academically. When he was in fifth grade he was recruited to compete with students at Hemet High School in a Rubik’s Cube competition,” said Dr. Martin.
“I can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 25 seconds,” explained Ryan. He was recruited by Hemet High School’s math teacher Kristin DeWitt to help the Hemet High team compete in the annual Pi Day Super STEM event at California State University, San Marcos.
Ryan said his friend gave him a small Rubik’s Cube when he was in fourth grade. He wasn’t sure how to solve it, so he went on YouTube to watch video’s that would teach him how. Once he solved his first Rubik’s Cube, he was hooked. He would constantly practice in order to better refine his skill. One day he was at an award ceremony for his older brother at Hemet High and used the event to practice. Mrs. DeWitt noticed his speed and recruited him for the Hemet High team. Since then he has competed as a part of the Hemet High team and is beginning to spark an interest in students at the middle school level. Dartmouth math teacher, Mrs. Vanwagoner is working with Mrs. DeWitt to create a team at Dartmouth so students will be more than prepared to compete when they reach high school.
Thank you to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and to the community for supporting Ryan and his family!