Toddler who inspired 'Banana Split' parties worldwide passes away after battle with Down syndrome and heart defect
Ryan Roberts, the 22-month-old terminally ill toddler who inspired thousands of families to host ‘Banana Split’ parties for their kids, passed away on Sunday.
His mother, Diane Roberts, posted on her Facebook page that her son ‘fought as in typical Ryan fashion - he ignored our words telling him it was OK to go.’
‘At approximately 12:10 while I held Ryan in my arms and daddy held him as well – surrounded by so many who loved him Ryan drew his last breath. He is without oxygen, medicine, tubes, wires, and HURT – he is at peace,’ Mrs Roberts wrote.
|Tragic: Ryan Roberts, a 21-month-old baby, is just weeks away from death. A family friend created a Facebook page to encourage mothers to cherish time with their own kids by sharing a banana split with them|
His story captured the hearts of people the world over after his mother asked parents to serve their children banana split desserts for dinner as a way to create lasting memories in her son’s honor.
'Who cares if your children don't get their veggies one night for dinner, allow them to "break the rules" for just one night and think of a special little boy while you're doing it!!' the Facebook invitation read.
Parents: Diane and Erik Roberts stopped Ryan's supportive care after learning doctors were unable to help his heart any longer. The Facebook event invited just 200 friends originally and now has more than 31,000 'guests'
A friend created a Ryan's Banana Split Party page on Facebook, and more than 76,000 people have responded, posting photos from their ‘Banana Split’ parties.
Photos from as far as Abu Dhabi, South Korea and Italy have been posted on the page as support from all over the world continues to pour in.
Mrs Roberts told HLNtv.com in June: 'We're just shocked at all these Banana Split parties that are going around for Ryan. Who would have thought a 21-month-old could have brought so many smiles to so many faces?'
Quality time: Ryan's parents spent the past weeks checking items off a special bucket list they created for him
Knowing that their son was quickly slipping away, his parents spent the past weeks checking items off a special bucket list they created for him made up off all the things he could have experienced if given the chance to grow up.
Ryan got a fake tattoo, was issued a 'speeding ticket' by visiting Pittsburgh police officers, rode a bike and shared a (root) beer with his dad to celebrate his 21-month-birthday.
‘He's a real bad ass,’ his mother said jokingly at the time.
First drink: Ryan shared a root beer with his dad when he turned 21 months old
Last week, the Roberts family spent the Fourth of July together at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, where they took Ryan to the roof of the parking garage to watch the fireworks.
He fell asleep before they were launched, Mrs Roberts said, ‘but we were all there together.’
His parents did not expect Ryan to go quite so soon, having thought that he had a couple more weeks left.
Support: Other parents and children, like the two above, have posted photos of themselves onto Facebook
Open hearts: Another posted photo is captioned with: 'Ryan your awesome! I wish I could meet you'
International: Families from all over the world have showed their support, including the above family from Italy: 'Enjoying banana splits in Italia for Ryan!! Praying for all of you. Che Dio vi benedica in Livorno, Toscana'
‘Last Sunday, I was lying out on the grass with him,’ his mother said. ‘The next Sunday, he was gone.’
Family and friends will gather on Friday for a private celebration of Ryan's life in Pittsburgh. Others who wish to honor Ryan can do so by writing memorial messages on balloons and releasing them into the sky at 8.30pm on Friday.