Help Keep an Inspirational Message Alive

Three days ago I wrote a post about my cousin, Ryan Gillis, a drug-addict-turned-inspiration who recently passed away in a car accident, and you all responded in a huge way. Not only did my usual blog followers drop by to give their condolences, but over 14,000 people showed up in total on that one day, coming from all over in search of information on Ryan. I also watched the visitor stats for Ryan’s “Love Life” video skyrocket, and I have to say that I couldn’t have been more thankful to see that Ryan’s message is being spread even in the wake of his death.

Today, because you’ve all been so wonderful and supportive, I want to share a couple of plans that are going on in Ryan’s name that some of you may wish to support.

First, Ryan’s family has opened a fund to raise money to help further some of Ryan’s loves in life. Ryan had been sponsoring a sweet little girl in Africa, so some of the money will go to continuing her sponsorship. Additional funds will be donated to N.A, A.A families, Yoga Halifax and Yellow Dog Studios, which were all so important to Ryan. There is no minimum amount on a donation, so if you’re interested you can donate whatever you want. Click the photo of Ryan and his sweet little angel below to go to the donation page:


If you can’t donate you may wish to participate in a video tribute to Ryan’s memory. Jay LeFrense, Ryan’s friend and professional videographer, is heading the project. He’s looking for as many people as possible to take a short video of themselves (just a few seconds) saying “Love Life” and telling where you’re from. (So, for instance, I would say, “Love Life, from Cape Breton”.) The videos will be collected by Jay from now until approximately Sunday, September 1st, and will be combined together to show just how far Ryan’s message has spread. If you’d like to take part in this video tribute, please upload your videos to the following Dropbox:

Finally, if you can’t donate and you don’t feel comfortable being part of the video, I ask simply for this: please share Ryan’s message. The video below – the same one I shared on Wednesday – was made so that he could share his story with the world and show people that no matter how far you fall, it’s always possible to climb back up again. So please share this video in whichever way you can so that the world can see it, and always remember: “LOVE LIFE!”

An Inspiration, Lost

My accountability post will be published a little later today because I want to talk about something significantly more important.

Late yesterday evening I got a very sad message from my mother. She said that she hated to have to tell me this, but my cousin Ryan Gillis died earlier that day in a car accident. He was only about my age.

Growing up, Ryan had a lot of problems with drugs. He struggled with them and went through the system more than once, and in those days we all worried whether anything would ever become of him. But in past years Ryan has pulled his life together in a way that was absolutely incredible. He went completely clean and sober, and got huge into yoga and fitness. He visited less-fortunate countries to bring love and support to the people there, and he traveled all over the country to visit schools and talk to them about just exactly what drugs do to a person. I have seen his name pop up so often on Facebook as students from every province took to their status updates to talk about this amazing guy who shared his story with them. It always amazed me to see what an impact he was making.

The most important thing in his life over the past few years has been staying positive, spreading the message of love and faith and pulling yourself through the bad times, and so it seems terribly unfair that he should be taken from the world now, when he was doing so much good and finally truly living his life.

So on behalf of Ryan, I want to say to everyone: Whatever you’re going through – no matter how bad it gets – there are ways out. You can find help, you can be stronger than you think you are, and you can turn your life into something that you’re proud of. You just have to have a little faith and be willing to fight for it.

We all love you and the world will miss you, Ryan.