As some of you may know, my son Ryan tragically passed away on September 11, 2012. There is nothing as heartbreaking for a parent to experience than the loss of a child. Ryan was a caring, gentle individual whose deep love for family and friends brought joy to his loved ones. His smile could light up a room; his affable nature was contagious. After four years, our hearts are still heavy. We miss his every day.

The Ryan Brubaker Foundation’s goal to “help local youth in need” may be a broad mission, but it is designed to allow flexibility for assisting and benefiting adolescents with a variety of issues. We want to be a light in the lives of kids living in the darkness of affliction, addiction, or mental/physical instability. Through counseling services, mission retreats, humanitarian experiences, educational programs and more, we hope to reach and change the direction of struggling youth to save them and their families from the tragedy we’ve endured.

Ryan wasn’t the type to enjoy the spotlight, but we believe he would be honored to know that we’re continuing his legacy by helping others in partnership with the organizations that shaped him: Warwick High School and Lancaster Career and Technology Center and Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, where he graduated from in 2009 and 2012 respectively.

In addition to Ryan’s schools, we’ve partnered with the Jeff Musser Foundation, which benefits the families of children with cancer in Lancaster County; Philhaven, a behavioral healthcare service for adults, children and families in Central Pennsylvania; the Pennsylvania Dutch Council Boy Scouts of America; and the Emerald Foundation.

All of these partners have in common the utmost concern and support for young people and their families, through thick and thin. They, like us, want to give troubled souls hope and opportunity in a world that can sometimes seem unforgiving. If collectively we can reach even one struggling young person, all our efforts will have been worthwhile.

We look forward to seeing all of our guests this year at Ryan’s annual dinner and auction on Tuesday, October 2. Your attendance means the world to not only the Brubaker family, but the lives of the young people who live and work in our community. Your desire to make meaningful contributions and build strong relationships toward the betterment of the Lancaster/Central PA community means the world to us.

In the wise words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, for indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Thank you for being part of this group and changing the world with us!