We have watched with bated breath for years while Ryan Ferguson, his family, supporters, and lawyers have fought for his freedom. It took years but common sense finally slapped the court in the face and he was able to come home. He has certainly been showered with a warm welcome from many. So when I saw this post on my Facebook feed from Andrew Cohen, I had to share:
Last night I went to the Freedom Celebration event in KC for Ryan at the Black and Gold Bar. It’s been about a full day, and I’ve let it all sink in, so I thought I’d write briefly about the chain of events yesterday and my encounter with Ryan in this forum. Hope you don’t mind…
I left work at 1:30pm in STL to drive to KC. Keep in mind it’s black friday and I’m in the car business. My boss says he’s going to write me up if I go. I think to myself, so #$%*ing what, there are more important things in life than black friday, making money, and getting written up by a manager of a small business. So I hop in my car, rush home to change into more casual clothes, and then begin my trek 3 1/2 hours to KC. Friends I’m telling about my plans are calling me crazy for driving all the way out there, one friend called my behavior stalkerish lol. I haven’t been really caring lately what other’s negative thoughts are and went anyway. I looked at it this way, Ryan did ten years, I can go drive 3.5 hours each way to spend a quality hour or so with someone who’s highly inspired me and I strongly believe in.
So after some pit stops, I finally make it to KC and walk in the bar. There is a camera in the middle of the bar shining on Ryan but by the entrance I see his mom. I’ve met Leslie twice before, and struck up a conversation with her. I was so glad to speak with her and get a hug. I saw her was when I visited Kelly in Columbia. She looked great then, but she was glowing this time. Smiling from ear to ear. Looking very happy and quite content. That really warmed my heart. After a few minutes of chatting with Leslie another one of her friends came up to speak to her, so despite a camera shining on Ryan I went and started up a conversation anyway. I put out my hand and introduced myself. He said he had heard of me through his sister (who I consider a good friend- and I joked hopefully you didn’t hear anything bad about me and he chuckled and said no). We talked about the supporters, we talked about freedom, we talked about working out, we took some photos. He was being pulled in ten different directions because everyone wanted to chat and hug with him.
I stepped away to give others space and let others chat, got a drink, and just sort of hung out, chillin. The part that really struck me was he invited me back over, widened the circle of people, and said “come on in Andrew, join the conversation.” Right there my heart melted, I was like whoa, this guy is classy!!! He knows about inclusion, about not leaving others out. I saw him make eye contact with EVERY PERSON who went up to him to talk with him. He was very patient, he was thankful, he encouraged everyone to continue to raise awareness. I was in awe. I don’t like putting people on a pedestal but this guy has it going on I kept thinking. He’s out, what, not even a few weeks and he has more manners and charisma and charm than most people I know.
I talked to some other supporters, his mom, his sweet Aunt (Bill’s sister) who I met at Oral arguments on 9/10. Everyone is so nice. I joked that I wish they would adopt me lol. I just love this family. They are so sweet.
So to make my long story not so long, before I knew it I had been there an hour and a half. I went back up to Ryan and asked if we could call my best friend Josh Dubinsky who he’d corresponded with multiple times but couldn’t make it. We called my friend Josh and he was elated. I told Ryan you just made Josh’s night, he said talking to Josh is actually making his night. Back to that class again, the guy exudes it! I told him I have to go. I gave him my biz card and wrote Josh’s number on the back and told him if he remembers to and feels like it to call us sometime. He was getting cards handed to him here and there so I don’t expect or want him to feel obligated to call back, but I am glad I got to meet him. I asked him if I could have a hug for the road. He gladly obliged.
He thanked me for help. I thanked him for the inspiration. And then drove back home.
PS- so far my boss forgot or decided against writing me up haha
**I asked Andrew if he had anything else to add to this post and he said, “Charles Erickson needs to be freed, Kent Heitholt’s family needs justice, and Kevin Crane needs to be prosecuted.” I completely agree with this. Do not forget that there are still many out there in prison who have been wrongfully convicted. Thank you all for your time, and your continued support to these issues.