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Legendary Locals: Pat Boone's Coto Grandson
by: Debbie L. Sklar
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Ryan smiles with his grandather, Pat Boone, at Dove Dash.
Ryan smiles with his grandather, Pat Boone, at Dove Dash.

The grandson of singing legend Pat Boone may be famous, but Ryan Corbin of Coto de Caza is a star in his own rite.

Born in 1976, Corbin fell through a skylight located at the top of his three-story apartment building in Brentwood on June 19, 2001. He landed on concrete and was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center in Westwood. He was in extremely critical condition when he arrived with multiple internal injuries, severe internal bleeding, and multiple brain injuries and was not able to breathe on his own. The doctors did not expect him to live, reports the website.

Today, he is making great strides in his recovery according to his mom, Lindy Michaelis, who says the family started a foundation in his name called www.ryansreach.com.

“I've rehearsed the story of what happened to him with him so many times that he has it memorized, but if I don't get the story started with the phrase ‘You were going up ...’ he makes up an answer like, ‘I had a car accident.’ When I get him started, then he can finish with, ‘I went up to the roof of my apartment building and stepped on a skylight. I fell three stories.’ ”

Mom says the entire family was hit hard when the tragic accident happened, including granddad Pat.

“Of course, our whole family gathered, prayed and relied on God and each other,” she says. “Daddy has always had a confidence that Ryan will not just survive but walk and talk and be just like he was. He seems totally surprised that 8 years has gone by and Ryan is still in a wheelchair but he is his loudest cheerleader whenever Ryan does the slightest thing for himself. We all remember it like it was yesterday when Ryan lay in a bed with no expression and no ability to react to the world around him. That condition lasted many months and his recovery has been gradual. We measure where Ryan is now against how he was for those sad months, not by how he was before he ever fell. That way, we stay joyful and grateful.”

And while there isn’t a “typical day” for Ryan, mom says almost every day is filled with therapy.

“When you have to re-learn everything and I mean EVERYTHING, each activity is a practice session,” she says.

Most days take him to High Hopes Head Injury Program in Tustin. Then, the rest of the day, he goes to another strength training rehab or home where there are five other practitioners who work with him during the week.

“It took 2 years before Ryan had enough energy and voice to display the anxiety that grew in him as he healed,” she says. “I have come to believe that what is going on is that a deep part of the brain is the fight or flight part and is our survival mechanism.”

As for his prognosis, Ryan’s is not set in stone.

“No doctor can say how far anyone with a brain injury will progress. They can quote statistics,” she says. “I think that when they tell people that you won't see much progress after the first year or two at the most after a brain injury, it's mostly because that's when the families of that person run out of energy and money. If there is any way to keep the therapy going and the families inputting the love and encouragement for that survivor, I truly believe most will continue to improve. I'm watching it happen with Ryan.”

In terms of the foundation in his name, she says Ryan doesn't benefit from the group’s fundraising efforts like its annual golf tournament.

“We started Ryan's Reach because as Ryan finally started to come out of his coma and little by little regain his speech and appetite and memories and other things, we knew the money it took to pour into his recovery,” she says. “I chose the name Ryan's Reach because I know that Ryan would be reaching to God, his family and the medical community for his own recovery. But, I also know that with his other hand, he would want to reach out to bring as many others along with him on the road to recovery as possible.”

Money has been raised in a variety of ways but the two annual events that raise the most are the Pat Boone and Friends Golf Classic in Coto de Caza and the Dove Dash 5K and Pancake Breakfast.

So what makes Ryan a special person? “Ryan has always been a charismatic guy. People were drawn to him before and still are,” she says. “It amazes me, with the odd and hostile behavior he exhibits toward men that it takes so little time for people to look past it and see the likeable qualities in Ryan. I've said for a long time that Ryan gives a beautiful face to brain injury. He fell three stories but you wouldn't know by just looking at him that he has a brain injury. His smile will melt you.”

Visit www.ryansreach.com for more info about Ryan.
 


Debbie L. Sklar is a 20+year journalism veteran residing in Southern California, where she is a writer, columnist and editor for many local, regional and national publications. Sklar may be reached via e-mail at DebbieSklar@cox.net
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