Encouragement · healing-over-pain · Hope

“My accident gave me courage and determination”

“My name is Cody, I’m 18, and I just began my sophomore year in college.

Let me tell you about my accident.

Some people started a trash fire behind the old boathouse.cody argo 2

They poured boat fuel on it.

The fuel ignited with the flames and, suddenly, I was on fire!

I was three at the time, and I was burned over 70% of my body.

My biggest challenge was getting back to moving.

After the fire and 46 surgeries, I couldn’t move around.cody argo 4

I was just stiff and wanted to sit in one place and never move.

I don’t really ever think about my scars, they are a part of me and they’ve been there basically all my life.

Even when I was little I never let them hold me back, but it was hard not being able to do the stuff other kids were doing for a while and it made me jealous.

But it was that very jealousy showed me that, ‘’hey if I want to be like them I gotta work for it!’’

So I did.

When I look back, my accident was positive.

It made me work harder than others.

My accident gave me the courage and determination to do that!

If I could tell everybody what I’ve learned it’s this: ‘DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED, because in a second your life could change, and things will never be the same.”

cody argo 5

And today?

Cody isn’t letting anything stop him, especially his scars.

“There haven’t been any huge problems.

My burns haven’t slowed me down at all.

Half the time I forget about them.”

 Cody’s story of perseverance has made him a regional winner in the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship’s Achievement category, which honors Alabama high school athletes” who have overcome personal hardship to excel on and off the field.

He has earned a $2,500 scholarship.

We at Ryan Shines respect him so much that we gave him our first “Ryan Hirn Memorial Scholarship.

cody

“I don’t want people to look at their scars and be ashamed; I want them to hold their head up and let their scars shine bright.

Our scars are beautiful!

Everyone says pictures are worth a thousand words . . . well, I’m a firm believer that scars are worth at least a million!

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dawn
Friendship · healing-over-pain · Hope · Relationship

Undercover Agents of Love

You’re not going to believe what happened to me last week in California!

I was attending the Phoenix World Burn Conference for burn survivors.

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Steve Joyner

There were about 800 of us.   

I say ‘us’ because I’m a burn survivor too, along with my husband and son, Tyler, who was a baby when we had the car accident.

It was that car fire that changed our lives completely because we lost our 7-year-old son, Ryan, in the fire. 

About the conference…I had come here with an agenda.

Like sharing Ryan’s Burn Foundation with my  ‘burn-survivor Tribe.’

My peeps.

Let me tell you about something that happened every day of the conference and it was pretty scary.

You know the term ‘Open-mic,’ right? We could volunteer to stand-up in front of more than 300 people and tell our story.

 

It was raw.

The wounds became fresh again, but this time in a room without judgment.

Everybody was just Honest-to-God.

Our only currency was the truth… and trust.

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Junior, Esme and 2 aunts

I could tell you about Esme and Junior(90% burned) who lost their 12-year-old big brother in a house fire. 

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Sam “no-hands bandit”

Or, I could tell you about Sam, the “no-hands bandit,”  who was electrocuted by so much voltage that it fried both his hands off. 

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Joe, Carrie and I

I could tell you about Joe.

He was in the middle of a nightclub fire that killed his girlfriend and 99 other people who were just dancing to the music and the next thing they knew they were on fire. 

Wait!

You know what I’m going to do?

I’m going to introduce you to these heroes in my next few blogs. One-at-a-time.

You must meet these Undercover Agents of Love.

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me, Jason, Sam, Sarah and Billy(worm)

Come open-hearted and ready to trust.

I guess it always comes down to a matter of trust, doesn’t it?

dawn

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Encouragement · Family · Hope

What happens on Elm street, stays on Elm street

The kids at school call me “Freddy Krueger.”

And they ask me about my “Nightmare on Elm Street.”

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As I talked with Louie I remembered some of the awful Freddy Krueger theme song.

“One, two, Freddy’s coming for you

Three, four, better lock the door

Five, six, grab your crucifix

Seven, eight, gonna stay up late

Nine, ten, never sleep again.”

“Everybody’s got scars,” Louie said with tears. “I still got a heart!”

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Louie

He told me how great it was being with Terry.

“Watching him use humor the way he does really helped me out!

Now I’m always crackin’ jokes with the kids around me, and they are so shocked and can’t believe I can do this!” 

“Sometimes I tell them ‘I got attacked by a shark with laser beams.’

I make ’em laugh! I say, ‘Hey guys! I’m medium-rare and you’re raw!”

 

Louie is my friend and he’s in my Hero Hall-of-Fame. 

I see courage every time I see him. 

Dawn

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Faith · Grief · Hope

Firefighters rush into the burning Towers (d.343)

 At 8:45 A.M. on September 11, 2001, an airplane slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

9:11 ff going in

I thought it was a horrible piece of flying since three airports were in close proximity.

But, then, twenty minutes later, most of us saw for ourselves a second airplane slamming into the South Tower, and exploded like a ball of fire.

This was no accident.

It was a deliberate act of aggression.

Thirty-five minutes later a third plane crashed into the Pentagon leaving a gaping hole in its side.

The fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

As for the death count, 2996 men and women died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Firefighters Todd Heaney and Frankie DiLeo, of Engine 209, c

And the World Trade Center was gone for good.

Americans of sixty national backgrounds were in the towers.

But as horrific as that was, the terrorists struck every one of us. 

Firefighters Raise A U.S. Flag At The Site Of The World Trade Center

This morning, my dear friends, I am crying again, while at the same time, my heart swells with respect and deep gratitude for the New York City Fire Departments(FDNY).

Ten House(fire station next door) arrived first and rushed into the Towers.

Two-hundred-fourteen fire vehicles (44 units) responded.

Over the past 6 months, I have met more than 600 firefighters throughout Alabama, Texas, and Florida.

I look into their eyes and every time I see the same single-minded commitment as the brave ones in New York. 

We stand and raise our voices to shout our praise to them, to sing our love to them, to honor their sacrifices, and to continue the sweet melodies of their lives.

We proclaim the land where they died a sacred place, where they showed us a degree of vulnerability far beyond our imagination.

Living well and loving courageously is our best revenge. 

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dawn

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Encouragement · healing-over-pain · Hope · wounded healer

The CHAR KING


I want to introduce you to Terry, one of our Burn-Survivors and a Firefighter to boot.
This guy’s a riot!

Terry pre

 

He’s survived 58 surgeries, and, at the same time, he is just hilarious!
He has personally helped many burn-survivors deal with their scars with humor.

 

They love Terry.
We all do.
He’s our hero. He is my friend and hero!
 
“The kids at school would stare at me and call me, “Char King,” he told me, “so I got a tattoo on my arm that says, “CHAR KING,”  and beat them at their own game.
Terry 'char king'
In fact, they laugh with me, not at me.”
 
“I, also, take control of conversations in the hall at school.
I decided it was best for me to tell them what happened to make me look this way, instead of leaving them guessing.
Or, I let them make up their own stories about what happened to me.”
 
“I figure if I can’t laugh at myself, what have I got?”

One of the things I learned from Terry is that humor helps us focus on what’s good and right with us instead of what’s wrong.a

 

dawn

#catchingcourage #ryanshines

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Encouragement · healing-over-pain · Hope · wounded healer

“All I wanted was to get my life together.”

Preston is the burn-survivor whose vulnerability is from head-to-toe.

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He could have cried easily but he kept it together.
 
“The best thing that happened to me because of my burns was, ‘I NEVER GAVE UP!'” 
bs-Preston
 
“I DO feel like a hero because I want to inspire other kids who are burned like me and give them hope.
I want to show them that their scars don’t have to stop them from doing anything.
I want to let every burn-survivor know that they don’t have to worry about their burns, but that they can feel normal like I do. 
That’s how I want to help everybody who is like me!”
I can’t imagine feeling like a hero at 15-years-old like Preston. 

Preston heroes a little bit every day.
It’s not a one-time thing.

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dawn
#catchingcourage #ryanshines

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Faith · healing-over-pain · Hope · Relationship

“All I did was pray in the ambulance.”

I’m going to tell you a story, but the star of our story is way bigger than a simple story.

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Jadah at Camp Conquest ’18

She’s a capital “S” Story!

Jadah is the girl, and she is God’s ‘S’tory!

The secret word here is one of the best words ever:  MIRACLE!

Jadah was burned over much of her body.

She and her cousins woke up early and went out back to re-light the bonfire of the night before.

One of her cousins opened a can of gas to help the fire along.

Suddenly, the fire backed-up into the can, he dropped it and it exploded on Jadah!

She ran into the house on fire and somebody called 911.

The hospital was 45 miles away, and it took that long for the ambulance to arrive.

Jadah sat her burning body down in a chair to wait.

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Jadah & Cpt. Cheeney Catching Courage ’18

There was so much pain she began to think she wouldn’t make it.

“All I did was to pray in the ambulance,” she told me.

Jadah said, ”It was so rough fighting in the hospital.

All the medicine they shot in me made me feel really weird and not myself.

I remember the pain.

Nothing could reach it.

It was all over me, and it was so horrible and so hard!

But it also really made me fight.

And even while I was fighting I realized God was busy working on me, too, inside and out!”

CC Jadah fish

Spoiler alert! Here comes the MIRACLE!

“I was miracle-healed!” (I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!)

She began to cry and said it again: “I was miracle-healed. God took most of my scars away!

God was giving me a second chance.”

Finally, she said, “I want to thank the firefighters, the paramedics, and the police officers.

They are all heroes!

My dad is a firefighter, and I know it hurt him almost as much as me!”

There was so much Courage sitting across from me.

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Jadah’s new friend  Catching Courage ’18

But more than anything, her deep gratitude.

dawn

#catchingcourage #ryanshines

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Encouragement · Family · Hope · wounded healer

Seen through her baby’s eyes

I’m Dawn.

The mother in this story is me. Our little family was boxed-in by a fire in our car.

We skidded across the access road off the Interstate and rolled the car three times.

Three of us survived. My seven-year-old son, Ryan, was burned alive, to death.

I realized last night that I haven’t told you very much about our baby boy, Tyler, who was freed from the flames along with Ron, and me. (We three were burned over 25% of our bodies).

This was–no-contest–the worst experience of my life.

Everything in me died on a slab that day, but my breathing wouldn’t quit.

I only wanted one thing . . . to be with my Ry-Ry immediately.

About Tyler.

My 2-year-old gave me the best Gifts of my life. (He’s a sophomore at Auburn now).

He gave his gift every morning of every month of every year after “the accident.”

 

He saw me beyond his own pain. He saw beneath my scars.

He saw the heart of a mother who didn’t deserve to be called “mother” anymore.

For him, nothing had changed.

We were still Team Tyler!

And every morning he pushed my bedroom door open, he saw the one thing he needed most. Mommy-Me! I was all he needed.

I was haunted by my consummate failure at the ‘’scene,’’ Tyler wasn’t.

I was more than my scars.

That’s what he taught me again and again, and he hardly knew how to talk.

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Forget words he knew me ‘by heart.’

I was all-mother, not his ‘scarred’ mother.

I was the mother who knew just what he needed, and when.

He showed me I still had the Goods.

He never once bailed on me while I was bailing on myself every day.

How can a 2-year-old do that?

I think about the ”Little Prince” and what he said, “

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.

What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Tyler saw me rightly and I grew into his vision of me.

He took me every day by the hand into the kitchen for breakfast.

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Tyler

He led me to the window to show me, in a loving way, that Life goes on.

It didn’t matter to him if I was ready to see it or not. God only knows how saw my strength. God only knows how he knew me.

Tyler will always be God’s best Gift to me!

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me and tyler

dawn

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Encouragement · Hope · wounded healer

It just didn’t matter anymore

Everybody knows Brody won’t take off his shirt.Brody2 CC

He won’t swim when all his friends are swimming because when he was a little boy he was horribly burned.

It was his chest that was seriously mangled.

He finally realized he can’t escape his scars unless he wore a shirt 24/7!

He could hide his scars under a shirt!

But what does Brody do when everyone goes shirtless?

Brody at hose CC

A few weeks ago I met Brody face-to-face at our “Catching Courage” event in Florida for burn survivors and firefighters.

To say he was in a league of his own would be an understatement.

He had something.

Don’t ask me what it was except to remind us that “The Lord works in mysterious ways!”

Brody is a wonder boy straight from the Heart of God. 

Ask anyone who knows him!

Brody is his own highlight reel on ESPN!

I could tell you BrodyStories all night, but let me just answer the earlier question about when things suddenly go shirtless.

Brody CC

Oh, I forgot to tell you about the dolphins.

We were in the dolphin pool at “Theater by the Sea,” during Catching Courage.

Brody, hanging back, looked at the other burn kids in the dolphin pool and you could see his brain working, you could feel his internal struggle.

He hesitated.

Then looked at the kids again and suddenly he stripped his shirt off.

He made a decision.

And with a big dose of courage, he ran into the water to swim with the dolphins!

The scars didn’t matter, and the insecurity was gone.

We all cheered him!

The Gift he gave us was his whole self!

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Hey Brody! You light my fire!

Dawn

 

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Encouragement · Hope · Relationship

New Kids in Town

There’s a new breed of “hero” in the country.

I’m pretty sure you’ve seen a few but you didn’t know what you were looking for.

Wait.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

First, I want to talk about the heroes that have flown in and out of your life.USA womens soccer 2019

Think back to Superman, or George Lucas, astronauts or police officers?

How ’bout our World Champion USA soccer team?   

So who and what is this new breed of heroes I’m talking about?

These heroes are “Pediatric Burn Survivors”!

They survived the fire that was consuming them and they are surviving the emotional handicap of growing up scared.  

But how are these ‘child burn survivors’ heroes?

For one thing,  most face multiple surgeries, over multiple years since every growth spurt requires “skin-release’ surgery so they can keep growing. 

Next, they take their scars to school with them and are then ridiculed.

Many are bullied or laughed at.

One child I know was tagged with  a new name–“Freddy Kruger.”

I want you to take that in and feel the shame that lingers. (And we thought the sky was falling when we had a ‘zit’ on our forehead.) 

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Catching Courage ’19 Pediatric Burn Survivors

These young burn survivors are heroes because daily they walk into school never knowing who would hurt them with words or everything going on behind their back.

Think about the everyday insecurities of ‘growing up’, especially in puberty.

Then, on top of their fears, add physical deformities.

Be mindful that most of their peers will never understand. Not even me–an adult burn survivor–even I don’t understand.

It’s all so unfair.

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CC ’19-Brody and Kaleigh
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CC ’19–Alex
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CC ’19–Lovely
Brantson
CC ’19–Future Firefighter Brantson

These kids are the new breed of “heroes.”

dawn

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