Dream, alive and well

Ryan Cenk was a regular volunteer at the Tuesday night meals here at First Church, hosted by our friends at Outreached Arms. Ryan had battled brain cancer from infancy. The disease made it hard for him to see and walk. He looked younger than he really was.

But he had the advantage of having a great heart.

And he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Ryan became an Eagle Scout, an advocate for the physically challenged, and a volunteer for many causes that mattered to him.

Before Ryan passed away in 2017 at the age of 22, he shared his dream of a night where the less fortunate were treated to a special meal.   

Ryan’s friends continue to make his dream a reality, and the dream continues to grow. This week was the fifth annual “Ryan’s Night to Remember” and it was the best yet. After appetizers and mocktails in the cafeteria, 115 guests sat down to a three-course meal in the chapel.

One volunteer said, “It’s something special to keep people thinking positive. It helps remind them that they still matter.” 

One guest said it “reminds us that someone loves us.”

Atria’s restaurant group again catered the food, with Atria’s owner Nancy McDonnell present to provide encouragement. Others donated desserts, flowers, linens, and more. Dozens of volunteers donated their time to serve, move tables, and wash dishes.

And they all said they were blessed by the privilege of serving. 

Ryan’s dad, Bill, has served here on Tuesday nights for over eight years, cheerfully carrying on his son’s legacy. When I told him I could see that Ryan got his character from his dad, Bill said, “No. I got my character from him.”  

Isn’t that how God’s Kingdom works?

Ryan Cenk

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