Hundreds come together in Draper to remember Ryker Jason Warner who died last week from Heterotaxy, a rare syndrome that affected his organs. Ryker was only supposed to live eight days, but proved doctors wrong to live 14 months.
His fight for life inspired people around the world through to social media. Those pulling for him on Facebook reached more than 24,000 likes.
“I just fell in love with Ryker,” said Heather Yancey, one of the many who first learned about Ryker's story through social media and came to pay her respects. “I’ve been following his story ever since he was a newborn.”
“It's amazing to read the comments and see how many people, strangers just like me, who care about this little boy so much,” she said. “I feel like I lost my own child, he's so special.”
Ryker's grandfather, Terry Warner, who spoke during the ceremony, is humbled by the showing of support.
“It means that his influence was felt,” he said. “That it was real, that it moved people, people that came that we don’t know on a personal or intimate basis, but they were moved to come because of his story.”
Ryker's siblings may have had a short time to know their brother, but got the chance to show their affection for him. His brothers were tasked with carrying his casket. His three year-old sister showered his casket with kisses.
Unified police provided a motorcycle escort to the cemetery for a final goodbye. It was a difficult and intimate moment for any family, but one the Warners wanted to share with the thousands who reminded them every day their boy's short life has a lasting purpose.
“Today's proceedings were fit for a king,” said Tisha Weber, Ryker’s aunt. “He's been nothing but amazing, he showed this world what life is really about and how to live and love and be there for other people.”
ABC 4 was honored to share Ryker's celebration of life ceremony to anyone who couldn't attend through a live broadcast on our website. Nearly 1,000 people from around the country tuned in.