Former WSU basketball player Ryan Custer lives life to the fullest

Published: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 12:16 AM

Former Wright State player injured in accident lives life to fullest

Ryan Custer is a loving son and brother, a loyal friend and teammate.

The 6-foot-7, 200-pound former basketball player at Wright State University is, at his core, a fighter and an inspiration, as he deals with partial paralysis.

“I say all the time that Ryan carries the day,” his father, George Custer said. “His attitude is awesome. Every morning he has a smile on his face. He looks at it bravely and carries on.”

Nearly 10 months after the Wright State basketball player and former Elder High School standout suffered a critical spinal cord injury in which he shattered his C5 vertebrae in a makeshift pool accident near Miami University, his approach to life has impacted more people than he could ever imagine. 

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“I thought I was going to be a kid who did not want to go out at all and just sit in my room and feel sorry for myself,” Ryan Custer said. “As soon as I realized that this couldn’t beat me I started fighting it and never looked back.”

There are still good days and bad days for the Custers: parents George and Kim and their three other children Nick, Danielle and Mckenzie.

His therapist recently told the family that Ryan is able to stand for 25 minutes on a standing frame with support from others for balance. 

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However, the injection of some 10 million stem cells last summer in Chicago has not had the hoped impact. There are other possible studies that could help him in the future, but Ryan and his family have to remain patient.

“I want people to take this as it’s not as bad as you think it is,” Custer said. “In a way there are always worse things that can happen. That’s what I want people to take from this.”

Therein lies his impact on a community of supporters — from Elder and the West Side to the Wright State community to the general public in Greater Cincinnati — that continue to visit, pray, offer Mass, send jars of holy water from everywhere, bring cookies, post well-wishes on social media and donate money for his recovery effort. 

The 2016 Elder graduate arrived at Wright State eager for another challenge. He averaged 9.8 minutes in 32 games as a freshman and was expected to be a starter or sixth man this season. 

Even more than basketball was the sense that Custer was one of the guys on and off the court. That lasting impression was the most important. 

WATCH: WSU’s Ryan Custer returns home following treatment

Wright State Director of Basketball Operations Nick Goff saw that immediately when the two met in the summer of 2016. 

“If you ask anybody on our team who is the best teammate or the closest friend, two-thirds of the guys would probably say him,” Goff said. “And that’s a freshman on the basketball team.”

The Wright State players and coaches keep in close contact with Ryan and his family since the injury. Goff helps to coordinate home game tickets for the Custers. 

They attended the Wright State at Miami University game in mid-November. George debated whether he could return to Oxford so soon. The emotion was heavy while in Millett Hall. 

“Watching that game, I could see him on the court,” George Custer said. “Sometimes I could actually see him running the floor and shooting. It’s tough.”

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Teammates text Custer and visit when they can; the support is genuine. Ryan said seeing the Wright State players is good therapy. In short, they’d do anything for him. 

“In terms of perseverance and in terms of toughness we’d be here until midnight if I went on down the list,” former Wright State guard Mike LaTulip said. “I knew he was a tough kid. I knew he was the type of kid who would persevere through stuff. Seeing how he has dealt with this right from the beginning — it has inspired me and a lot of people. When you have a friend and a teammate like that you know he’d support you the same way. He would do the exact same thing for me.”

Custer’s framed No. 33 home jersey hangs in the Nutter Center lockerroom. He watches road games on TV. He is taking two online classes at Wright State. Ryan’s Raiders are never too far away. 

The family has plans to be in Detroit for the Horizon League Tournament and hopefully a berth to the NCAA Tournament after that. Custer is still a significant part of the team. 

“Just seeing him kind of cheers everybody up,” Wright State coach Scott Nagy said. “We miss him. Not only from the standpoint of if he was on our basketball team he would be playing a lot but we just miss him because we like him and we are not around him like we were last year. He has a great personality and he is very funny. So when the guys do see him it certainly gives them a good lift mentally.”

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Custer routinely attends Elder basketball games and practices this winter. He spoke to the team for about 30 minutes before the season started in early December. 

His message was simple. Make the most out of every opportunity. You have one chance at playing high school basketball. 

You could hear a pin drop when he spoke to the players. 

“He always had this personality that if you walked into the gym he had this energy,” Elder Assistant Basketball Coach Tim Austing said. “And probably the most amazing thing I can say is he is still that kid.”

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While Custer doesn't want the spotlight, he sees an opportunity to impact lives. While those close to him struggle to understand the reality of his physical condition, Custer lifts their spirits. 

“He wants to be a positive influence on other people,”Goff said. “Obviously, his circumstances are not ideal. But he is handling it better than anybody can even imagine. I know if I was in his position I wouldn’t have handled it this well. He is a tremendous inspiration not only to our team but to us as people.”

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Historical caboose vandalized in Xenia, costly repair bill expected

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 11:29 AM

Spray-painted graffiti scrawled on the side of the historical red caboose in Xenia will cost thousands of dollars to repair, said Ronald Goble, president of the Greene County Historical Society.

Spray-painted graffiti scrawled on the side of the historical red caboose in Xenia will cost thousands of dollars to repair, said Ronald Goble, president of the Greene County Historical Society.

The vintage, steel-sided, Baltimore & Ohio caboose in the city park at South Detroit Street and South Miami Avenue is on display to the public and can be opened for tours free-of-charge.

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The spray paint used on the train car “ate all the way through the protective coating and down into the base coat,” said Goble, who unlocks the caboose for tours by appointment or on busy days at the park.

“We’ll have to have a professional painter take a look at it,” he said. “It will have to be stripped, sanded and repainted.”

The cost will be significant. Ten years ago the caboose was painted at a cost of $5,000, paid for through a local foundation’s fundraising, Goble said. He said the historical society relies on volunteers and donations and doesn't have a reserve to cover such high costs.

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Goble said the caboose was also hit by vandals last spring, resulting approximately $4,000 of work to replace windows that were busted out. 

Xenia Police Detective Matt Miller is investigating the May 12 incident. Other businesses and organizations were reportedly struck the same weekend.

Similar graffiti was found on a wrecked semi-trailer that’s been parked at Moorman’s Towing for about two months, said Moorman’s Towing employee Ryan Arnett.

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“We just don’t see that kind of stuff around here,” Arnett said. “I remember about five years ago we had an issue. They caught those kids doing it. It’s only a matter of time before they catch these (vandals) too.”

If you can help in the investigation, call Det. Miller at (937) 376-7209.

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Isolated storms, strong winds to develop today

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 3:43 AM
Updated: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 3:39 PM

More showers and storms are expected later this Monday in the Dayton area.

>> Cloudy with a chance of Podcast: A podcast for weather fans 

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Showers and Storms Develop this Evening
  • Heavy rain , hail and damaging winds the main threat
  • Isolated spin-up tornado possible 

>> 5-Day Forecast

DETAILED FORECAST

THIS EVENING:Partly cloudy, warm and muggy to start the evening, then scattered showers and storms are expected to develop. One or two storms could become intense with heavy rain, hail and strong winds. There is also a minor threat for an isolated spin-up tornado. Areas north of I-70 would be in the best position for the tornado threat as a warm front will be pushing north through the Miami Valley. Storms that form along or ahead of the front will likely be the strongest. It will be an evening to watch closely and how quickly the front moves. Once the sun sets and the front moves out of the area, the threat for severe weather will decrease. Storms are still possible until about 2am, then some lingering showers after that with mostly cloudy skies. Temperatures this evening will fall through the 70s, then to a low in the middle 60s overnight.

>> LIVE Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, warm and muggy again with the chance of a few passing showers or storms, mainly during the peak heating of the day. Severe threat is low, but areas to the south and east of Dayton could see an isolated strong to severe storm with gusty winds and hail the main concern. Highs for the day climbing to around 80 degrees. A cold front will pass and high pressure settles in for the night. Skies will clear, humidity will drop and temperatures will fall into the upper 50s.

WEDNESDAY: Finally a dry and comfortable day with a mixture of sun and clouds and a high in the upper 70s. 

>> County-by-County Weather

THURSDAY: Mostly sunny and nice with highs in the lower 80s.

FRIDAY: A great way to finish the week with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures. Highs in the middle 80s.

SATURDAY: Partly cloudy, warm and a more humid. Chance of a few pop-up shower or storms into the afternoon. Highs in the middle 80s

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WATCH: Demolition starts on downtown theater

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 3:18 PM

Crews are knocking down the exterior bricks walls of the former Studio Theater on Central Avenue in Middletown. The 90-year-old building has been vacant for more than 30 years.

Ninety years of Middletown history isn’t standing a chance this afternoon.

Large equipment from Vicker’s Demolition is knocking down the exterior brick walls of the former Studio Theater on Central Avenue. Motorists are being cautioned to slow down in the area.

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City leaders have said they’re unsure how long it may take to demolish the building. Crews will have to be careful because there are occupied buildings in the area. The theater has been vacant for more than 30 years.

Earlier this month, city leaders said miscommunication about a bidder’s position resulted in that bidder not receiving the contract to demolish a downtown Middletown building and increasing the costs of the project by more than $150,000.

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The former theater has been on borrowed time since 2009, when it was originally scheduled to be demolished before a lack of funds postponed it. City officials said the building was deemed inappropriate to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places and cleared for demolition in 2009 by the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office.

According to local historian Sam Ashworth, the downtown theater opened as the Strand Theater in 1929 with 1,800 seats and closed in 1959. It was remodeled and reopened July 16, 1964 as the Studio Theater with seating capacity reduced to 1,000 seats. The theater closed on April 24, 1984, but the office space on the second floor continued to be occupied until 1988. The building been vacant since.

Jennifer Ekey, city economic development director, said the city acquired the title to the 30,000-square-foot Studio Theater property in 2014.
The former Studio Theater on Central Avenue in Middletown Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018.

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Student brings loaded gun to Moraine school, police say

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 12:20 PM

A loaded handgun was recovered from a 12-year-old male student at the Montgomery County Learning Center in Moraine Monday morning.

A loaded handgun was recovered from a 12-year-old male student at the Montgomery County Learning Center in Moraine this morning, according to Moraine police.

The incident was reported around 8 a.m. and no injuries were reported, police said.

Officers responded to the school on Kettering Boulevard after becoming aware of the incident, Sgt. Jon Spencer with the Moraine Police said.

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According to Spencer, the student was taken into custody and the weapon was recovered by staff members.

Police said the student was allegedly carrying the loaded weapon in his backpack when it was discovered.

A motive for why the weapon was brought to school is still under investigation, Spencer said.

Staff members were notified of the weapon, which prompted the investigation, Spencer said.

The student was transported to the juvenile detention center and could face charges of a CCW violation, illegal conveyance of a weapon and inducing panic, Spencer said.

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