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As a young child, Ryen was told that she would never be able to walk.

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy and hip dysplasia at a young age, Ryen’s childhood had been filled with countless doctor’s visits and multiple surgeries that made her likelihood of being able to walk seem even further from reality.

Despite the limitations put on her by others, Ryen was fueled with the motivation to prove them wrong.  As a child, Ryen had made it her mission to walk and participate in sports. As an adult, she connected with Loma Linda University’s Team PossAbilities, which gave Ryen an opportunity to pursue one of her lifelong goals: train and complete a triathlon.

“The adaptive athletes I met have inspired me to not allow anyone to set limitations for myself,” Ryen shared.  “It’s not that I can’t do things, it’s that I do them differently.”

Ryen found herself at the YMCA after receiving encouragement to take the Redlands YMCA’s Master Swim program by her coach.

“I walked into my first day at the Y’s Masters Swim Class knowing how to doggy paddle. The Y’s coach worked with me from day one to help me build my swimming skills so that I could not only compete but that I could be a competitor.”

With her eyes on the prize, Ryen trained hours each day for her first triathlon. Between strength training to laps in the pool, Ryen became a regular face at the Redlands YMCA. As many witnessed her transform in an incredible, powerful athlete, Ryen not only overcame the obstacles in her way but also inspired others to do the same.

“When I’m doing pull ups or leg press, I have people come up to me and tell me that I inspire them to be the best version of themselves. To me, the best motivation is being told that I am inspiring someone to be better than they were yesterday,” shared Ryen. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”

Ryen’s training had paid off. After multiple triathlon’s, Ryen gained a spot in the USA Triathlon’s Paratriathlon National Competition. Her desire to grow as a competitor and surpass the limitations she had been given as a small child has given her the

To all at the Y, Ryen’s triumphant story is an inspiration and a true testament of how the power of community can propel someone towards their dreams.

Support members like Ryen

1 in 4 members receive Financial Assistance

The YMCA provides Financial Assistance so that we can eliminate the financial barriers that keep families and individuals from wellness resources and a community of support. When you donate to the YMCA of the East Valley, 100% of those donations go straight into our Financial Assistance program so we can serve more in our community.