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Meet the Tim Reynolds Memorial Fan of the Year

Ryan Brady Fan
A true fan of horse racing can almost always tell you when they became hooked on the sport. Whether it is a singular memorable moment, or a period of time that allowed their heart and soul to fall for the sport of kings, as a collective group, we never forget our first time. For Ryan Brady, it came when he was ten years old and enjoying the parties his father threw for national telecasts of races featuring Cigar

What do I look for when deciding on Horse Racing Nation’s Fan of the Year? The short answer would be it takes a very special person. The more detailed answer would include a cornucopia of examples how this person demonstrates their pure love for horse racing on a daily basis. Ryan Brady is just such a person, and today I honor his great love for the sport by naming him the Horse Racing Nation’s 2012 Tim Reynolds Memorial Fan of the Year.
 
Selecting the Fan of the Year is not an easy task. There are countless wonderful people that I considered for the award this year, but it was Ryan who I felt to be the most deserving. He goes above and beyond the average fan, and always does so in a positive way. Follow Ryan on Facebook for as little as a day and you quickly realize that he loves horses, loves horse racing, and that he is more than willing do whatever it takes to make sure that he shares this love with as many people as possible.
 
I first had the pleasure of meeting Ryan at this spring’s Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. “Zipse!” “Zipse!” I heard, and as my wife and I turned, we saw a smiling young man that introduced himself as Ryan Brady. I immediately recognized the name from his consistently positive posts online that always demonstrated his commitment and passion for thoroughbred horse racing. With a click of the camera, and his signature thumbs-up pose, Ryan and I added one another to our growing list of racetrack friends. Easy going and friendly, I found Ryan to be not only likeable immediately, but as someone who possessed an infectious love for a day at the races. 

I recently learned that Ryan’s sincere appreciation for horse racing may in part come from a personal appreciation for life itself. You see when Ryan was 13 years old he was diagnosed with bone cancer in his leg. He was bed stricken for a year after removing a tumor and having his bone replaced with a metal rod in his leg. I’ll let Ryan explain in his own words how racing played such an important role during his sickness and recovery.
 
“As I was in the hospital, I watched the races on the television, such as the Breeders' Cup, and saw a segment about an organization called Kids to the Cup (KTTC). It showed how ordinary kids entered essay contests to achieve their dream of going to the Breeders Cup, the Triple Crown, and other big racing events.  After I was done with my chemo treatments, I decided to enter one of their essay contests for the Santa Anita Derby. I won the contest and I got an all-expenses paid trip to Santa Anita Park to see Point Given win the Santa Anita Derby. I got to meet racing’s biggest stars, such as Bob Baffert, D. Wayne Lukas, and John Sadler, and many others. We got to go behind the scenes with an all-access pass, and it was all thanks to Trudy McCaffery’s organization. That experience opened up a whole new door of seeing racing in a new and positive light… the way it was meant to be.”

Since that time, Ryan has strived to give back to the sport that means so much to him. He has engaged the casual race-goer to become racing fans at his local racetrack, other tracks across the country that he visits, as well as online. Perhaps nothing illustrates this so clearly as a story Ryan told me recently. After his experience with Kids to the Cup at the Santa Anita Derby, he organized a local trip to his home track of Thistledown that year for a “Kids to the Cup” day. Due to Ryan’s efforts the kids were given an experience they will likely never forget, including presenting a winner’s trophy, touring the backstretch, and having breakfast as the horses worked out. Ryan says it was a great experience that led to many new fans of horse racing.  

Ryan continues to be an ambassador for racing in Northern Ohio, bringing people to the backside. He introduces them to the jockeys, trainers, grooms, and of course the horses. He enjoys teaching them about the sport, how to handicap the races, and even how to use the wagering machines in the grandstand, considering himself a personal tour guide of the track he lovingly calls the Big T. There can be no doubt that he not only loves the sport and his home track, but he feels the calling to give back. Ryan explains it best, “I feel that it is my duty to bring people into the sport so that the sport can thrive again, returning to its rightful place as an integral part of American culture.”

The next time I would see this fantastic fan would be during Kentucky Derby week, and specifically at the Ferdinand’s Ball. It was fitting to see Ryan at an event dedicated to making sure retired Thoroughbreds get a well-earned, safe and dignified retirement. We shared a drink and a few laughs, as we supported Old Friends, an organization that is both near and dear to our hearts. I have not run into Ryan since then, although it would have been no surprise if I had.

Ryan tells me that he has visited eleven racetracks this year alone. Doing what he does, having a good time and helping others to do the same. If you are not already, be sure to request Ryan as a friend on Facebook, as his posts are well worth the trouble. Even better, strike up a friendship with the smiling young man at the track. Just look for the thumbs up and you’ll know you’ve found Ryan Brady. And a finer fan of thoroughbred horse racing you will likely never meet again.

For the first time it will be my sincere pleasure to present Horse Racing Nation's Tim Reynolds Memorial Fan of the Year Award in person at the ThoroFan brunch at Gulfstream Park on Sunday, January 20. Until then, Ryan Brady of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, I salute you, and the world of horse racing salutes you. Congratulations, you are the Fan of the Year.

 

 

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Older Comments about Meet the Tim Reynolds Memorial Fan of the Year...

It is a great honor to be counted as one of Ryan's many Facebook Friends. His enthusiam for the sport is unparalleled. His smile brightens my day and the struggles he has overcome is something that tugs at my heart. Congratulations, Ryan! I hope to see you at the track someday!!
Congratulations Ryan Brady! You opened your heart to the sport of kings & the beautiful equine athletes!
Anyone have his FB link?
Congratulations, Ryan. I hope you write more for h r n.
this is so wonderful. So well deserved. Congratulations, Ryan!! looking forwards to seeing you again at the track!!
Congrats to ya man! Cigar was my first also. Cheers!
Ryan !!! Congratulations !!! How neat !!! <3
I knew almost nothing about the horse racing industry and now I can say, I learned alot about it and one reason is because of your fan inductee. Glad he got the public recognition so people can see what we already knew about him. Congrats
Congratulations Ryan! It is not only great to know that racing fans like you are out there, but that human beings like you are out there. You are a role model that so many people should and can look up to. Thank you for your story, and all you have done for the sport. Like so many others that have already commented, I hope to meet you one day sharing new memories at the track.
Congratulations to Ryan! After reading your story, we sure hope we get to meet you soon. You are exactly the definition of the kind of fan that our Tim would have loved to get to know also. When I read this outloud to Wayne at supper, we both looked at each other and said "sounds like a lot of the qualities that Tim had & this young man is surely deserving & makes a wonderful choice!
  • RyanBrady · Thank You Alice as this is High Praise coming from you. I am so honored to recieve this award named after a great man I used to talk to late at night when we were the only ones up. We used to talk about everything, and I look forward to meeting and talking with you very soon in the future as well. Thank You so much. :D · 574 days ago
Congratulations to Ryan! Well deserved in honor of Tim Reynolds! Ryan does so much for the people and the horses of the game, great man!
Congrats Ryan! This award is something you should take great pride in receiving. I hope to meet you at the track one day!
  • RyanBrady · Thank You so much and this is the Greatest Honor of my Life, so Pride is for sure and understatement here. I look forward to meeting you as well at the track one day myself. I am the one at the rail taking the pictures. ;) · 574 days ago
I know you guys are getting tired of reading my posting but i need to share this story with you. Last year we were racing "moody Bruce". Bruce won that day and there was a gentleman on oxygen and a walker that was yelling as loud as he could for "Bruce". Ryan asked him if he would like to come into the winners circle and get his picture taken with us and he did. We shook his hand and thought nothing of it again until the pictures came out. Ryan bought an extra picture to see if he could see this gentleman again. Well he did and Ryan gave him the picture. The mans eyes swelled up with tears and he explained to Ryan that he always hollered for Bruce, as his brothers name was Bruce and he had passed away just 1 week before Bruce had won that race. THAT is one reason why your choice of Ryan for fan of the year is the best you could make
Great choice, and congratulations, Ryan!
Congratulations Ryan!! Def the right choice!!
Congratulations,Ryan Brady! What a beautiful smile you have to go with your love of the sport And Brian it looks like an excellent choice
WHat a great choice for Fan of the Year, Ryan Brady. It hits a soft spot in my heart having visited Thistledown several times during my college years. I look forward to meeting Ryan in the future!
Congratulations, Ryan! I love your story and love how you smile so big in all of your photos!! I look forward to meeting you at the track one day soon! Congrats to this deserving winner!
Ryan has introduced people who would ordinarily not get to see the beauty of the horse to this sport. We have received some great thank you letters from fans that Ryan brought to our stable to meet our horse "up close and personal". the best thing is Ryan bring young people back to this sport. we need to have more younger fans if our beloved sport is to survive and Ryan makes it fun. He truly cares about the sport and the animal that makes it all happen. we (Jerry Noss racing stable and the _nosskateers") all applaud your choice
Jerry Noss and I, Lynn Boggs are honored to be associated with this young man. as of about 4 years ago, ryan became an owner in our stable and we now have horses together. Your choice should not be questioned by anyone as tis young man IS horseracing

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