JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The first game of the season was an emotional one for the Bolles Middle School football team and fans. They used the game against Providence Middle to celebrate the life of Ryan Perry.
The 10-year-old died Wednesday after getting tangled in a rope swing. It happened next to athletic field at the Bolles Middle School Bartram campus while Ryan's brother, Alan, was practicing with his team.
Tuesday night's game was moved to the high school stadium at the Bolles School San Jose campus. The team wore green stickers with Ryan's name on their helmets while the cheerleaders wore green hair ribbons. Even the opposing team wore green patches, Ryan's favorite color.
Brian Johnson, Bolles Head of School said, "The score of the game is not really relevant here. This game was played largely so we could support the kids and the family in terms of how they can respond now and how they can move forward. How we can heal. The game was about supporting each other."
Ryan's brother, number 55, took the field as his teammates rallied around him.
Tom Collins, head Middle School football coach said, "Alan was all smiles tonight. All smiles, and God only knows. I couldn't be more proud of Alan and his family and our boys in particular because they have rallied around Alan, and they've turned such a tragic event into something obviously they are going to remember for the rest of their lives. They are growing up. No kid should ever have to experience what they did, but moving forward with life, understanding how life is and again supporting and being their for Alan and turning something tragic into something that will bond them together for the rest of their lives...Ryan was a real special boy, all of our children are. Every one of you mothers sand dads. Your child is very special. Don't ever forget that and we haven't."
A viewing is set for Friday night from 6pm until 8pm at Ortega United Methodist Church. Ryan's funeral will be at 11am Saturday at that same church followed by a private graveside service.
Ryan's father said his son loved soccer, loved animals and loved life.
In lieu of flowers the family is asking donations be made to the Westside Soccer Club or the Jacksonville Humane Society.
First Coast News