For her grandson Ryan's birthday party, Anita Casteel has planned a mixed of somber remembrance with good old fashioned fun.
The fun needs no explanation. The remembrance is because Ryan won't be there this year.
"Last year was his fifth birthday. This year he won't be here," said Casteel. "You have to keep moving forward and making it better."
Ryan's Birthday Party Foundation, is a non profit founded by Anita Casteel. One of the major focuses for the foundation is to donate costumes to children battling cancer. The costumes allow children the opportunity to be someone else for a while.
Casteel had worked as an ICU and cardiac nurse. "It astounds me the number of sick kids there are. The attitude of most of these kids is let's have fun today. This makes me appreciate my family - my children and my grandchildren. We think of ways of how we can make today a good day. These families have a long hard journey and a lot of the kids don't survive," said Casteel.
Casteel's family endured a great deal after Ryan was diagnosed. "It makes me want to make it better for someone else," she said.
So she's planned the birthday as a thank you and day to remember Ryan and the other children in the cancer battle or who have lost their fight to the disease. Ryan's Birthday Party Foundation will host a day of fun on October 2 from noon to 4 p.m. at Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, Sylmar Road. Ryan's costume 5K and half mile family fun walk will be held in the morning. Registration is at 9:30 a.m. and the walk/run begins at 10 a.m. Costumes are encouraged. This will be a professionally timed race and medals will be awarded.
The birthday party runs from noon until 4 p.m. There will be free games, food, face painting, moon bounces, and entertainment. There will also be wagon rides. The party is open to all. There will be vendor sponsors, a food truck, and more.
There will be physicians and family members of Ryan speaking. Music, fire apparatus from Community Fire Company of Rising Sun, a martial arts demonstration.
This event will be to celebrate Ryan's life and the lives of all those children gone too soon due to cancer. Ryan Casteel died last year from a rare form of brain cancer. At 4 p.m., 500 red balloons will be released in memory of children with cancer.