Ryan Shelor defied the odds all of his nearly 22 years. He was born three months premature, weighed only two pounds, seven ounces, and suffered from severe cerebral palsy. Yet he lived to go to the 21st birthday party he had always dreamed of – and along the way he had more memorable life events than most people experience if they live to be 100. How many people get to hang out on the sidelines during the game with the cheerleaders from their high school and at Virginia Tech? How many people develop personal friendships with Tech Coach Frank Beamer and several Hokies who would go on to careers in the NFL? Shelor did all that, and more. How many people have an entire church devoted to their 21st birthday party and have a motorcycle club show up to take them for a ride? How many people help launch an organization devoted to helping the families of children with special needs? And how many people have a standing-room-only funeral and a procession worthy of a head of state? Shelor did all that too. People who knew Shelor invariably talk about how he never let his situation dampen his enthusiasm for life.
The website devoted to raising funds for his causes – www.RyanShelorFund.org – states it best: “Ryan never let the limitations of his body interfere with his spirit.” The website also gives a lengthy list of life accomplishments: “Ryan graduated from Glenvar High School, participating in choir, band, cheerleading and office supervision. He was involved in Challenger Little league Baseball since its inception and introduced the Roanoke County School system to its first service dog, ‘Bo.’ Ryan’s need for a service animal was the inspiration of the Saint Francis of Assisi Service Dog foundation and he served as its poster child for many years.” Shelor had a charisma about him that managed to reach out and speak to others despite the words that wouldn’t come and the limbs that wouldn’t function. “It was interesting that a kid in his situation crossed all boundaries,” says Ryan’s father, Steve Shelor. “All types of people from all walks of life were attracted to him. “People are always telling us that when they were down and they thought about him and his situation it gave them a lift, made them see their situation differently.”
Ryan Michael Shelor, 21, of Roanoke County answered the call of the Lord on August 10, 2006. Ryan came into this world early with major health issues, weighing only two pounds and seven ounces. He joined a loving family ready to share their unconditional love and to follow the path God had in store for his amazing life. Ryan never let the limitations of his body interfere with his spirit. Ryan was loved and respected by everyone he met.
He inspired hope, was immersed in faith and opened many doors for others throughout his life. Ryan graduated from Glenvar High School, participating in Choir, Band, Cheerleading and office supervision. He was involved in Challenger Little league Baseball since its inception and introduced the Roanoke County School system to its first service dog, “Bo”. Ryan’s need for a service animal was the inspiration of the Saint Francis of Assisi Service Dog foundation and he served as its poster child for many years. Ryan was an avid Hokie Fan, personal friend of the Hokie Bird and a regular at Va Tech football games. He was always up for a “big” time. With his generous smile, he shared the love and joy of Christ. Ryan’s heart was always with the Lord and he lived to give to others.
The Ryan Shelor Fund was born out of his desire to give back to kids and families with special needs. Ryan remained happy, joyful and full of life despite his hardships and was one of the most courageous men alive. He always found strength in his favorite verse” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13. He truly was one of God’s greatest gifts to this earth. While Ryan will be sadly missed by his loving family and friends, we are comforted in the knowledge that Ryan’s body no longer hinders his wonderful spirit. Thank you to all who made a difference in Ryan’s life. The love, encouragement and support given to Ryan and our family helped him live his life to the fullest. He was touched by many and for that we are grateful.
We want to give special thanks to Dr. Luther Beazley, Dr. Jeri Lantz & staff at RMH 9th Floor Mountain, Dr’s Hart & Cordell, Community Tenth Floor nurses & doctors, Dr, Harry Webster, Alan and Debbie of Carillion Hospice, Glenvar staff & students, Pastor Ken Nienke and the congregations he so loved at Fellowship Community Church and Bethel Baptist Church of Salem. Ryan will be running, playing and teasing in Heaven with his Granddaddy Billy Shelor, Uncles and Aunts Hoyt McCartney, Pete Davis, George and Robbie Bratton, and great friend John Clark.
Ryan is survived by his loving family of parents, Steve and Cindy Shelor, big brother Jonathan Shelor and Sister-in-law Katherine Shelor and little brother Zachary Shelor, his Grandparents, Gary and Linda Davis and Patricia Shelor, Great Grandparents Jesse and Madeline Rutledge, Aunts and Uncles Justin and Holly Davis, Debra and Rodney Barbour, Bob and Linda Felton, and Alan Shelor, cousins Jessica Barbour, Drew Barbour, Laura Felton , Quinton Felton, Susan Felton, Charles Alan Felton and Taylor Davis, his second mom, Sandy Whitley, in addition to many extended family members and friends who loved Ryan greatly. Ryan will always be our hero.