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2017-12-27 / Featured

He may not be in our classroom, but he is in our hearts

By Nannette Kilbey-Smith
Wilson County News


Spiderman (St. Anthony Catholic High School student Kyle Davila) swings in to visit with Ryland Ward in his room at University Hospital in San Antonio. 
UNIVERSITY OF THE INCARNATE WORD Spiderman (St. Anthony Catholic High School student Kyle Davila) swings in to visit with Ryland Ward in his room at University Hospital in San Antonio. UNIVERSITY OF THE INCARNATE WORD He’s seen Spiderman and Tigers.

But these are not the stuff of a little boy’s dreams. They’re superheroes and hometown heroes who have visited Floresville South Elementary School kindergartner Ryland Ward, as he continues recovering from gunshot wounds he received Nov. 5.

Ryland was wounded in the shootings last month at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. He’s undergone multiple surgeries and procedures at University Hospital in San Antonio.

Aiding in his recovery are the hundreds of cards and get-well messages he’s received, along with visits from special people, including his favorite superhero, Spiderman, and members of the Floresville Tiger baseball team — and his kindergarten teacher, Lisa Lucio.


Lisa Lucio’s kindergarten class at Floresville South Elementary School stuffed this ornament with wishes for their classmate, Ryland Ward, who continues to recover from his injuries from the Nov. 5 shootings at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. 
FLORESVILLE ISD Lisa Lucio’s kindergarten class at Floresville South Elementary School stuffed this ornament with wishes for their classmate, Ryland Ward, who continues to recover from his injuries from the Nov. 5 shootings at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. FLORESVILLE ISD Although her students find it hard to comprehend the severity of Ryland’s injuries or why he can’t be back in school with them yet, Lucio marveled at the great compassion they’ve shown for their classmate — and each other.

“The conversations in the classroom are about when Ryland returns and never ‘if’ he returns,” she said. “The students remain hopeful and full of love. I’ve noticed the increase in hugs and ‘I love you’s’ to each other and to me.”

Every day, Lucio said, there is a new card or letter a student has worked on for Ryland.


“This is what the Christmas spirit is all about and what makes being part of the Floresville Baseball family so special!” said Coach Jason Pfluger. Members of the Floresville High School Tiger baseball team drop in on Ryland Ward Dec. 20, delivering a box of Christmas cards they’d signed, each filled with a $1 bill, to help Ryland achieve his Christmas wish of getting a go-kart. 
COURTESY “This is what the Christmas spirit is all about and what makes being part of the Floresville Baseball family so special!” said Coach Jason Pfluger. Members of the Floresville High School Tiger baseball team drop in on Ryland Ward Dec. 20, delivering a box of Christmas cards they’d signed, each filled with a $1 bill, to help Ryland achieve his Christmas wish of getting a go-kart. COURTESY “I think the writing helps the students heal from such an event and show their love for Ryland,” his teacher said. “He may not be in our classroom right now, but he is in our hearts and always will be.”

Other Floresville South Elementary School students have made and sent get-well cards and Christmas greetings. The school’s principals have been to visit Ryland, as well as the kindergarten team, and district Social Work Services Director Ben Reed, who stays in contact with the family to provide support as needed.

“Floresville ISD is so proud of our students and the kindness they have shown others during a difficult time,” said Floresville Independent School District Communications Specialist Kim Cathey. The district “focuses on hope with our students and staff and we have certainly been overwhelmed by acts of kindness that make us hopeful for the future.”

Ryland’s family truly appreciates all the kindness and warm gestures. Just before Christmas, Chris Ward — Ryland’s dad — sent a message, expressing the family’s “utmost and sincere appreciation to everyone for the generous outpouring of love, prayers, and support” they’ve received. He said the cards and gifts for Ryland and his sister, Rihanna, have brought them “so much joy, and reminded me there are good people in this world. For this I am truly grateful!”

Ryland’s teacher echoed the family’s gratitude.

“The support my class has received from the community and parents is inspiring,” Lucio said. “The love being shown to us showcases in our classroom daily.”

The amazing Spiderman

At times, he’s a hardworking student at St. Anthony Catholic High School in San Antonio. But when he’s not in school, Kyle Davila is bringing smiles and joy to kids in the greater San Antonio area, as one of their favorite superheroes — Spiderman.

Through Teacups and Tiaras, Kyle turns up at parties and special events to make kids’ dreams come true.

In mid-November, Kyle visited Floresville kindergartner Ryland Ward, who was severely injured in the Nov. 5 shootings at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

“He has the purest, most lovable heart I have ever seen,” Kyle said after meeting Ryland. He’s since been back to visit several times.

Teacups and Tiaras has organized a gift-card drive to benefit Ryland’s family and the family of Zoe Zavala (Braden); she also was injured in the attack. The gift cards will help with groceries and travel expenses.

nkilbey-smith@wcn-online.com

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