Balloon release for Ryan Smigeal

A community is remembering a young life taken by cancer.

Ryan Smigiel was first diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in 2015.

Ryan passed away in March 2018.

Now his family and friends gathered at his grave to remember his life.

“He was my birthday present,” said Darlene Alldredge, Ryan’s aunt.

Alldredge said her 37th birthday was her favorite, that’s when her nephew, Ryan, was born.

She said sharing the same birthday was never a problem. He always loved a good party.

“Ryan was a people person and he loved celebrations, he loved parties, he loved it and so he would want everyone involved and he wouldn’t want us to be out here crying,” Alldredge said.

Crying she said because family and friends are at Elm Lawn Cemetary in Bay City celebrating Ryan’s life one year after losing his battle with a rare form of brain cancer.

TV5 first told Ryan's story back in 2015, one year after he was diagnosed with DIPG.

“We just want to keep DIPG in the news and hopefully we can get more funding and find a cure because it’s 100 percent incurable right,” said Donna Smigiel, Ryan’s mother.

Donna said Saturday’s ceremony and balloon release is meant to celebrate their spartan-loving son.

“Ryan handled his fight with dignity and grace and perseverance,” Donna said. “He went to schools and talked to young kids about disabilities and being different and was just an advocate for people with cancer and young adults.”

So 100 balloons were released from 100 people in Ryan's memory.

"The fight was so public from the very beginning and our community has been awesome through all of that, so we just felt it was important for the first year to invite everybody out because they've just been awesome," said Tiffany Switek, Ryan's sister.

Copyright 2019 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Anchor/Reporter

Digital Content Producer

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.