Teenager Ryan Gebauer Lived For Jumping Out Of Trees

Ryan was a happy, fun loving teenager.

Editor’s Note: When thirty-three-year-old Ryan Gebauer, from Coral Springs, FL was a teenager, he loved climbing and jumping from trees into the canals near his home. When one favorite spot was no longer available, Ryan and his friends found a new tree. Little did Ryan know that his first jump from this tree would also be his last. Part 1 of a 5 part series.

As sophomore in high school, Ryan Gebauer was carefree, happy and really had no plans for the future. He was like many 16-year olds – hanging out with friends, partying and having a good time. The future was never a consideration at that time. He was only interested in living in the now. A few years prior, Ryan and his friends discovered the greatest thrill of their lives: jumping out of trees into the canals. The group usually jumped out of one tree near one of the boy’s house. This tree was in just the right spot and consistently produced fun for a group of young boys. However, there was a problem with this particular tree. The neighbor who owned the tree didn’t like having the boys coming on his property and jumping out of his tree. This neighbor had already called the boys’ parents and threatened to call the police if they didn’t stop. So, in 1995, the group had to find another tree.

“We found another tree that hung out over the canal that we felt would be a suitable replacement,” Ryan reports. “One of my friends climbed the tree to start clearing branches to give us an easy place to jump from, but he couldn’t break some of the branches to clear a path for us. So I climbed up, believing I could break the branches he couldn’t. I cleared the branches while another friend waded out into the water to make sure the water was deep enough. It was. We found a new tree to jump from.

One of the trees Ryan loved to climb

One of the trees Ryan loved to climb

My other friends were all in a boat waiting for us and the boat started to sink. To help everyone get the boat back to land, I decided that the shortest route for me was to jump out of the tree and swim to the boat.” To reach the water, Ryan had to jump from the tree limb, past the bank and then land in the water. When he pushed off to jump, the limb broke and did a belly flop into the water 30 feet below. When he hit the water, he had a whiplash that broke his C3 and C4 vertebrae in his neck.

“I was face down in the water, but my friends weren’t concerned because they knew I was a prankster and always joking around,” Ryan recalls. “Finally, they realized something was wrong, and jumped in the water to get me. I faded in and out of consciousness. When I regained consciousness, my friends had pulled me up on the bank. My accident happened right after Christopher Reeve was injured. I had read about his injury and knew he was paralyzed. I asked my friends as I was lying on the bank. ‘Am I paralyzed like Christopher Reeve?’ They replied, ‘No, but we’re going to get you to a hospital anyway.’ They kept telling me to get up, but I couldn’t. I was trying to lift my arms to support my body in a sitting position, but my body wouldn’t move.”

To learn more about Ryan Gebauer and ways he’s working for the community, go to www.rollingryan.com.

Tomorrow:  Ryan Gebauer Endures Multiple Surgeries and an Endless Sea of Doctors and Nurses

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

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