Ryan’s Place – Choosing Kindness Every Day

Juelerye |Artisan Gallery & Gifts owners Jacqueline and Nelson Bassett are known for inspiring their clientele with artful passion – creating a destination shoppers always return to and share enthusiastically with family and friends.

Each day, they deliver happiness by encouraging clients to fill their homes with meaningful treasures that bring them joy. That gift of daily happiness was also something Jacqueline’s son, Ryan, was well known for sharing. Friends, family and even strangers knew him as “Mr. Wonderful.” That was how he introduced himself – and it couldn’t have been more appropriate!

Jeffrey “Ryan” Lanford always envisioned doing big things, even after being diagnosed with the genetic syndrome 22q.11.2 at the age of 16. He believed anything was possible.

“Ryan wanted to make a difference, to get married, have a nice place to live and have children,” said Jacqueline. “I wanted that for him, too, but it was not meant to be. There was a different path for him and for me.”

Over his lifetime, Ryan was given multiple diagnoses (Autism, Asperger’s, PDD-NOS, Intellectually Disabled, Developmentally Disabled, Mental Retardation) and many, many labels. Between 2014 and 2016, Ryan really struggled with heart and kidney issues but seemed to always get through it. He lived a full, happy, challenging life for 37 years, but on April 10, 2016, his big heart gave out.

“Once you lose someone, you’re changed forever,” said Jacqueline. “There is never enough time on this earth for those we love most. Although Ryan is no longer with us physically, his life touched so many people.”

While Jacqueline shares it was unimaginable when she lost Ryan, it’s equally unimaginable what has taken place since that time – to honor his spirit. Two big things happened in 2021.

“At Juelerye, we offer a pottery line by Vermont artists ZPots (Eric Hendrick and Noelle VanHendrick). I fell in love with their hand-inscribed cups with words such as Happy, Laughter, Strength, Friendship, Hope, Kindness and more,” said Jacqueline. There are more than 20 different words that are available on their cups and other pottery pieces. “One of the best parts about having this business is the relationships we have developed with customers and artists all over the world.”

Over time, Jacqueline got to know Noelle and shared stories of Ryan. In early 2021, she received a call from Noelle with the news that ZPots “word” for 2021 was going to be “wonderful” – in honor of Ryan. The Cup of Wonderful is inspired by Ryan’s love of the world, his curiosity and, of course, his nickname! The cup’s color choices express his favorite color, purple, and his orange/red wild hair.

“In the spirit of doing good things, I wanted to take this a step further and give back the proceeds of the ‘Cup of Wonderful’ to the international 22q11.2 Foundation’s mission of raising awareness,” said Jacqueline. “We do that with each cup that is purchased either online or in the store.”

She was also deeply touched when learning Luis Hernandez, one of Ryan’s AFL providers, would be opening Ryan’s Place, with a goal to help families and individuals secure services for their loved ones with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Ryan’s Place in Matthews, NC, held its ribbon cutting on May 21, 2021 which coincided with Ryan’s birthday.

“I spent years fighting for services for Ryan,” said Jacqueline. “What Ryan’s Place is providing for families and those with developmental disabilities is just incredible. The system is so flawed and, because of Ryan, Luis started his own business to help others. Ryan always wanted his own place, and now he has it. He would say to me, ‘Mom, do you think I’ll ever have my own place?’And, I would say, yes, I think you will. When I look back at pictures of Ryan and his life, knowing what a difference he has made is so amazing. I smile and cry at the same time. Ryan’s Place is more than I could have ever imagined, and they keep growing to provide more services to the community. No doubt he is smiling down on all the great things happening.”

For Luis, sharing daily life with Ryan was like caring for a friend or little brother.

“Ryan came to live with me when the system had really failed him,” said Luis. “In our time together, I watched him grow, hold a job, navigate adult responsibilities, like relationships or transportation, and learn to set goals for himself. Ryan was a ladies’ man, and we often dressed the same and wore the same cologne! He was kind beyond measure and capable of forgiving and forgetting, treating everyone with that same kindness no matter what. This is something I struggled with before Ryan, and I am eternally grateful for the things he taught me in our time together.”

Luis thinks that’s what drives the message of Ryan’s Place: Choose kindness, be someone’s sunshine and carry ourselves with purpose. If we resolve to carry ourselves the way Ryan did, the world would be a brighter and better place.

In Ryan’s words, “Ain’t Life Grand?”

Jacqueline reminds us of the poignant quote: “To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world. This really speaks to the power of one and how the actions of one person can make a profound difference to someone else.”

To become involved with Ryan’s Place, visit the website at ryansplaceclt.com for upcoming events, or call 980.339.5676. To purchase a Cup of Wonderful, visit Juelerye Artisan Gallery & Gifts, 112 S. Main Street in Mooresville, NC, 704.728.0460 or purchase at juelerye.com. You can also learn more about the genetic disorder 22q11.2 deletion syndrome at 22q.org.




Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Stay up to date with our events and get exclusive article content right to your inbox!

Latest Stories

Other Featured Articles


All Article in Current Issue

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Stay up to date with our events and get exclusive article content right to your inbox!