If driving through Dumas it would be hard to miss the name of the 7-year-old Central Elementary School student who was injured last Thursday in a snow skiing accident in Colorado. Ryan Smith’s name is everywhere. It’s on business marquees, in store windows, and on residents’ lawns. It’s even etched into farmland. His name has also gone viral on social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Ryan, the son of Jason and Melissa Smith, of Dumas, was injured when he hit a tree while snow skiing with his family in Telluride, Colorado last week. Initially, he was unresponsive but has improved. He is now able to feed himself and is walking, according to Fara Free Bottoms, a counselor at Ryan’s elementary school and the person who started the “Rallying for Ryan” support campaign.
While tidying her house and picking up her children’s toys, Bottoms came up with a non-traditional way of showing support for Ryan.
She and her daughter used a toy train track to shape the letters of Ryan’s name, snapped a photo and shared it on social media sites using the hashtag #rallyingforryan and urged others to do the same.
Ryan’s family immediately began to receive photos via social networking sites of creative items used to shape the letters of Ryan’s name. By Monday, they had received photos from every state in the United States as well as several countries, including Germany, Turkey, Finland, Japan, Canada, Guam, West Indies and Iraq.
About 1,000 photos have been shared on social media sites. “It has exploded,” Bottoms said.
The Smith family received photos from Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton and other players in the NFL Combine, military bases, sororities, dentists, churches, children, businesses, and many others.
A farmer tilled Ryan’s name in a large field and snapped an aerial photo, Arkansas Ag used wrenches and tools to shape the letters of Ryan’s name, dentists used toothbrushes and dental instruments, Big Banjo Pizza shaped Ryan’s name on a pizza with pepperoni slices, members of a military base used their boots and hats. Last Saturday, 80 people met at Dumas High School’s indoor practice facility to spell out his name with their bodies.
“When one of our own gets sick or hurt we rally around them and do whatever it takes to show our support and help them get better,” Bottoms said.