A Registered 501(c)3 Public Charity

Ryan M Bennett Fund

A Part of Ryan’s Story

Ryan Mark Bennett was born on April 9, 1992 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to proud new parents, Mark and Marie. The name Ryan means “little king” and this name suits him. God called Ryan to serve as the man who lives beneath the sea, the finder of the lost, and the last hope for those who have given up…the “little king” of the ocean, and the ruler of the seven seas.

Ryan participated in football, wrestling, track & field. He enjoyed annual fishing trips to Canada with his cousins. He was a friend to all, and a stranger to none. Ryan loved having a good time with friends at backyard campfires, hiking, riding dirt bikes and tractors, going to the movies and he immensely enjoyed the company of his family and friends. He studied the art of welding. Ryan was a proud U.S.Navy Diver.

Throughout high school, Ryan focused on the sport of wrestling. In quoting the great Dan Gable, “Once you have wrestled, everything else in life is easy. More enduringly than any other sport, wrestling teaches self-control and pride. Some have wrestled without great skill – none have wrestled without pride.” Wrestlers are a unique breed…the sport of wrestling teaches life lessons that are so much more than just moves on a mat.

This was Ryan’s Facebook post on February 27, 2011 following the award of his 6th place district medal in wrestling his senior year.

My wrestling career is over and I’m happy that it’s over, but I’m even happier that I left everything out on the mat, right up until the final buzzer. Another chapter of my life comes to an end and I can honestly say that I don’t have any regrets :)

Ryan was not the most talented wrestler; he knew there were others that were better than he. That year, at the annual wrestling banquet, he earned the Best Work Ethic Award. At the time, the recognition was of little consolation to him as he would have preferred to go further in wrestling and make it on to Regionals, or even States. However, less than six months later, that award meant everything to him. He had just completed Special Operations Boot Camp training in Great Lakes for the US Navy. That was the most difficult test of his life to date. When the trainers figured out they could not break Ryan physically, they tried to break him mentally.

Following his graduation from boot camp, while we were on a visit with him in Chicago, he told us exactly how much that award really meant to him. Those days when trainers told him he wasn’t good enough to be a Navy diver, when they told him he didn’t have the heart it takes to complete the training, he thought back to that award. He knew that someone had seen his ability. Someone had not only seen, but recognized his work ethic and that award, that recognition, got him through boot camp, plus 31 days of pre-dive and four months of rigorous diver training to achieve his goals of becoming a Navy Diver.

We are in awe of the accomplishments of Ryan and to say that we are SO PROUD is a complete understatement! We always tell our children that they can do anything they set their mind to and be anything they want to be when they grow up. Reality is, life throws us obstacles, and there are hurdles to overcome, and some are completely beyond our control. It is all in how we deal with those challenges, and the choices we make, that shape who we really become in life.

On Wednesday, March 21, 2012, less than a year after his high school graduation, we had the honor and the privilege to witness Ryan graduate from Naval Diving and Salvage Training Command in Panama City, Florida, to join a very elite brotherhood of service members. He set a goal, he worked hard, he kept his focus, and he accomplished what very few are able to achieve, the status of Navy Diver. He did it! He really, really did it! He took it one step, one challenge, one mission at a time, and he succeeded in reaching the goal that he set so many years ago. The enormity of this accomplishment is overwhelming! We are so thankful to have had the opportunity to be a family in this life, with this wonderful young man. We are humbled by his commitment and dedication. He has reaffirmed for us all that in this world, anything really is possible; if you set your mind to it…you really can achieve your dreams, and be anything you want to be! Obstacles are challenges that can be overcome with hard work, perseverance and focus on the goal. That very day, his Facebook post read:

Today I join an elite brotherhood; it was worth every minute of every day, all the blood, sweat, and tears all leading up to this moment. I joined the Navy with one goal in mind and today I achieve it. HOOYAH DEEP SEA!!!

On May 19, 2012, when Navy personnel arrived at our door, our world stopped. Nothing can diminish the pride we have for our son and brother, or the comfort we feel in our hearts knowing that he absolutely loved his very last moment in this world. Ryan touched people with his heart. That is evident from the messages of love and support we have received from people, worldwide. Ryan made a difference in his life. He loved fiercely and unselfishly. He was quiet, but he did not miss a thing…he took it all in. He was adventurous, precocious, and he knew how much we loved him, every day….more than the whole wide world.

Ryan is survived by his parents, his younger brother Jay, grandparents, numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, beloved extended family, and friends. He rose to every challenge and gave this life his all, with no regrets! He continues to inspire people that knew him, or have heard of his accomplishments. To know that he has provided inspiration to others to pursue their life passions and follow their dreams, to see how he has impacted the lives of others, eases the pain of our loss.

To our community, family, and friends that continue to celebrate Ryan’s life with us, we are eternally grateful for your love and support. We know his memory will live on in each of you, as it will in us. Thank you for showing us the impact that he left with each of you. Although his life was short, it was full, and he accomplished so much. He lived! He loved life and he was living the dream! He cherished every moment and he would want all of us to do the same. Set your goals, make a list, prioritize what is really important, and achieve what you want in this life. Live every day with no regrets. Be kind to one another and be the best person you can be, to every one you encounter.

To honor our son, brother, friend, and to continue his legacy of making a difference in people’s lives, we created the Ryan M. Bennett Memorial Fund to support his life passions of wrestling, welding and diving. Two Awards for Wrestling Camp will be presented to Susquenita High School wrestling participants at the annual wrestling banquet. These awards may be used to go to camp or wrestle in clubs or tournaments in the off season and should provide the wrestler with additional skills to advance in the sport.

2015 Update: It is our pleasure to expand this fund to include two scholarships to Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School welding students. One will be awarded to a welding student entering the workforce to cover new hire expenses including but not limited to dues and books for apprenticeship programs. Another scholarship will be awarded to a welding student that is planning on attending higher educational certification in the field of welding. We also extend the fund contributions to support the Navy Diver Foundation. This organization was established to honor the Navy Divers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty and provide scholarships to families of Navy Divers.

We look forward to continuing the Ryan M. Bennett Memorial Fund for many years to come! We appreciate the continued love and support received from those in our community, as well as the prayers of comfort from total strangers that share our tears.

Fund Administrators

  • Marie Bennett
  • Mark Bennett
  • Jay Bennett

Scholarship Recipients

  • 2 Annual Ryan Bennett Memorial Scholarships to wrestling camps
  • 2 Annual Ryan Bennett Memorial Scholarships to welders at Cumberland Perry Vocational Technical School
  • 1 Annual Ryan Bennett Memorial Scholarship issued by the Navy Diver Foundation


CharitySmith accepts donations in two ways:

By Mail:
Ryan M. Bennett
CharitySmith Nonprofit Foundation
13100 Filly Lane
Truckee, CA 96161

Use credit card by clicking the link below.

The above Memorial Fund is established as a division of Charitysmith Nonprofit Foundation (EIN 87-0636433). All donations are tax deductible in accordance with federal tax law. Receipts for tax purposes are sent via US Mail within two weeks of donation. Please consider asking if your employer participates in a gift-matching program. If so, your donation may be matched by your employer.

For questions regarding your donation or this memorial fund please contact CharitySmith.

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