GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Friends and family gathered Sunday to celebrate the life of a Grandville student athlete who died suddenly last week.
Ryan Fischer, 17, died in his sleep Friday morning of complications due to an enlarged heart.
Sunday afternoon, hundreds of people showed up at Grandville High School to share stories and memories of Fischer. The ceremony held was in the gym to accommodate the crowd.
“Seeing everybody here, like all the cars that are parked, it’s like another school day and it’s just great to have everybody out here,” Fischer’s friend Rachel Wisniewski said.
“It’s incredible that Ryan put this much of an impact on everyone.” Karlee Karpowicz, another friend of Fischer, said.
The last few days have been somber for Fischer’s family, friends and community, but Sunday was about his life.
“Giving our community an opportunity to get together and celebrate Ryan’s life,” Grandville Superintendent Ron Caniff said. “This is intended to be a celebration.”
Fischer was a captain of Grandville’s hockey and football teams, and a 4.0 student in the National Honor Society. He had been accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
“I think more than anything, though, if you talk to his peers, it’s how he treated people,” Caniff said.
Many attendees were fellow hockey players. Teams from as far away as Big Rapids showed up in their jerseys to show support.
“Everybody is just sad that he’s gone,” Andy Wawrzyniak said.
Wawrzyniak from Kenowa Hills High School didn’t know Ryan, though they had faced of on the ice. He said he and his teammates thought it was important to be at Sunday’s event.
“Because if it was one of my teammates I would want everybody to come and support,” Wawrzyniak said.
That was the thought across the hockey community.
“We’re a family,” said Nathan Schmidt from the Grand Haven High School hockey team.
Visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Cook Memorial Chapel, 4235 Prairie St. SW, with a Rosary at 7 p.m. A funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 3937 Wilson Ave. in Grandville.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Wounded Warrior Project or the Wes Leonard Heart Foundation.