Remembering Ryan Suenaga pt. 2

Back in 2009 while I was on a mission to bring HMSA into the social media world, I had a chance to organize a panel for the Physical Activity and Nutrition (PAN) Summit 2009. I thought to myself, who is in healthcare, active in social media and willing to share a panel with me. Without a doubt, Ryan Suenaga was top of mind. He worked at Kaiser Permanente, had his own blog, was active on Twitter but would he want to share the stage with an HMSA wonk. Conscientious as he is, Ryan got approval from his boss before giving me the green light. As it turned out Ryan was a terrific choice. Our presentation was called Social Media Outlets: What Works Well and What Could Work Better. He proceeded to tell a life story I had not heard before. He talked about how his father passed away due to diabetes which became an epiphany for Ryan. He shared about being 200+ pounds with pictures to prove it. He talked about improving his health and how the social media community provided the support and encouragement to help him succeed. It was truly a story of one man's struggle to come to grips with is own health and how the community around him helped. In his concluding slide, the one shown above, his final bullet says:
Network to teach, give and get support.
The community in which Ryan surrounded himself was one that he cultivated. It did not spring forth randomly. He nurtured it with not only the near 92,000 tweets but also by interacting directly with people, through runs, tweetups, pickup basketball and twikes. He'd come out to our Bytemarks Lunches whenever his work load permitted. He came to our March lunch and gave me some good job seeking advice. He even had a way of supporting events without going to them. I organized the Unconferenz and Ryan would be the first to order a t-shirt in support of the event. He intimated to me that he wanted to avoid seeing someone there so would be an unlikely attendee. But he still wanted to give his support. If you read his blogs you might say that he sometimes wore his heart on his sleeve. He gave so much of himself and his simple expectation was that people show some reciprocal kindness. He did not find that in all people but that did not lessen his capacity for compassion and his continued ability to nurture his community. As we mourn Ryan's passing, we all feel an emptiness in our heart. Yet I think Ryan lives on in all of us. We all felt his compassion, kindness and generosity. We all learned a lesson or two from him. He was basically paying us forward so that we can share it with others. If you really want to remember Ryan, it's simple. Just show a little kindness. Pay it forward. Ryan is right there.

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