Robyn Young-Bennett says Rosie Ryan is the real deal.
“What you see is what you get,” she said of the Kippens woman who went to the same school as she did while growing up in St. George’s.
Ryan was named Citizen of the Year at the Stephen Awards Banquet held at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 35 in Stephenville on May 5.
“My favourite part of Rosie is that she’s stands up for the kids, not mattering to her what walk of life they come from, as she treats them all exactly the same,” Young-Bennett, a volunteer with Bay St. George Special Olympics, said.
She said she has seen Ryan with kids involved in track and field, in the Kippens Recreation program, in her Special Olympics role and there’s no difference.
Young-Bennett said it’s a testament to Ryan that young people who graduate and go away return and contact her. That’s because she’s approachable and leaves her mark on them.
She said its amazing that a woman who didn’t have any children of her own with challenges would start up a Special Olympics organization in Bay St. George as she did.
Two of Young-Bennett’s children, Cameron Bennett and Shane Bennett, have challenges and she brought them to Special Olympics and “never looked back,” getting involved herself.
She really believes of all the things Ryan does in the community, her involvement in the Special Olympics brings her the most joy.
“When people say you can’t, Rosie says you can,” she said of Ryan.
Young-Bennett was referring to Ryan tutoring her son Shane in math when he went to College of the North Atlantic.
He hadn’t done math from Grades 9 through 12, but with help from Ryan and her husband, Bill, Shsne came out of the course with a 75 at the end of the year.
“Just another example of Rosie taking him under her wing,” she said. “He respects her to no end and currently he’s working at WalMart.”
Young-Bennett said Ryan is also relentless when it comes to standing up for a child, has patience galore for her athletes and has her heart in the right place.
When it comes to track, there are athletes everywhere, with more than 100 kids at the last practice. She said that speaks volumes to how kids want to be involved in what Ryan is instructing.
For her part, Ryan said she’s grateful she has been afforded so many opportunities to volunteer with local organizations and exceptional youth.
She enjoys working with young people and said she plans to continue with that for as long as she can.