KILLBUCK — Ryan Troyer is a funny guy who loves to greet people and leave them laughing.
And now, he’s gone beyond telling jokes — he’s selling jokes as a published author.
A volunteer at the Killbuck Community Library, Troyer and Teresa Weigand, his support provider from Nick Amster Workshop in Wooster, make a weekly stop at the Killbuck Savings Bank to pick up the key to the library.
And every week while visiting the bank, Troyer shares a joke or two with the tellers.
“They all love to visit with Ryan,” Weigand said. “He always has a joke for them and they show their appreciation with a hearty laugh and a smile.”
Weigand is a trusted friend of Kathy Smith, Troyer’s mother. Smith explained that her son has been going to the Holmes Training Center (Holmes Board of Developmental Disabilities) since he was an infant, and when they needed an adult provider to assist with his disability, Weigand was available through Nick Amster, Inc.
Troyer has Williams syndromea rare genetic disorder characterized by growth delays, a varying degree of mental deficiency, and distinctive facial features that typically become more pronounced with age.
Celebrating Disability Pride Month
July is Disability Pride Month, a time to celebrate the pride people with disabilities have in themselves and their many successes and contributions to the workforce and community.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, preventing discrimination against people with disabilities, became law in 1990.
Marianne Mader, superintendent of the Holmes Board of Developmental Disabilities, said Troyer is a perfect representative of what the program is all about.
“Ryan’s personality is so outgoing and friendly, and he is so well known throughout the community, he shows up on lot of website pages,” she said. “Our vision is a community where everyone belongs. He and his social network have made sure that he is viewed as another important citizen of Holmes County.
“Sometimes there is a stigma associated with disability, but Ryan and his family have made sure that he has risen above that,” Mader continued. “He is well-included, well-loved and is a contributing member of this community.”
Mader noted that the Holmes DD works with adult support service agencies like Nick Amster through the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities and through additional federal programs.
Meet author Ryan Troyer
Troyer’s lifelong love for reading and telling jokes led to the publication of his first joke book, which was essentially pages stapled together for a project at the training center. His new book is a softbound booklet, printed locally by Tope Printing in Millersburg.
“Ryan’s Joke Book: Walk a Mile in My Shoes” has sold close to 200 copies. They are sold for a suggested donation of $8. He will gladly sign a book for you if you ask, and he will probably also tell you a joke.
The books are available at Snowside Restaurant on West Front Street or contact Smith on Facebook. The books are not about making money, according to his mother, they’re about making Ryan happy.
“And he’s loving every minute of this,” she said. “People have been very gracious. We had someone order a dozen books the other day to take to people in nursing homes. That was so sweet.”
Born to tell jokes
Troyer says he was born to tell jokes. His nickname is “Mr. Sunshine” because he makes people around him smile.
“I like to make people laugh and smile,” he said. “Never stop telling jokes so you don’t stop laughing.”
He giggles and laughs when he tells his jokes, adding to the fun. His laughter is contagious.
Troyer has endured many visits to the hospital and has experienced more than his share of pain in his 37 years. He has never let the obstacles in his life get in his way.
“If he’s quiet and not in a good mood, you know he’s not feeling good,” his mother said. “He doesn’t tell me when he’s sick. I just have to pick up on his demeanor.”
Last year, Troyer was in the hospital for several weeks. It was an effort to keep his spirits up. His desire to finish his book helped him get through the order.
“Every day, he was pretty much depressed and giving up, and every day I would remind him about his new joke book we were going to make,” Smith said. “He needed to think about what we were going to put in it. We did research on jokes and we tried them out on his nurses.
“Sometimes if they were having a bad day, they would come in and say, ‘Ryan, I need a joke.’ And he would tell them a joke,” she continued. “Everyone knew he loved to tell jokes. I knew he always wanted to write one, but this was a turning point, and we really got going on it when he got home.”
Tricia Huffman, a manager at Nick Amster, said a number of people helped Troyer put his book together, including Weigand, his mother, and staff at the Holmes Training Center. John Tope and his son Tasha helped prepare the book for printing.
“But ultimately it was his, his joke book,” Huffman said. “He’s done a great job putting the whole thing together and finally getting it published. It was his goal and he actually achieved that goal. The community has been very supportive.
“When Ryan had his first book signing, Teresa kept me informed about how things were going,” she continued. “There were a lot of people there for two hours, showing a ton of support for Ryan and what he’s doing. I think that was pretty cool.”
Reach Kevin at 234-249-5294 or by email at [email protected]