Ryan Gaske inspires Clarence teammates with his determination and love for the game

Gaske doesn't let down syndrome stop him
Posted at 3:20 PM, Oct 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-20 15:20:14-04

Ryan Gaske is always smiling and always laughing.

It's easy to be that happy when you spend an hour a week doing something you love.

Ryan works at a Pediatrician's dentist office in Williamsville and carries a lot of responsibility.

"I take a toothbrush and put it in the bag, then I take the floss and I put that in the bag. I'm always neat with the bag," Ryan explained.

Ryan likes the work, and each time, he leaves with a smile and a hug.

He's a junior at Clarence High School and he enjoys a good challenge.

"Putting together these bags is a good skill and it really takes the effort to do it," Ryan said.

But a few years ago, Ryan wanted a different kind of challenge.

He wanted to play football. So he signed himself up without telling anybody.

"I wanted to surprise them," Ryan said about not telling his parents.

"I got a call from the football coach telling me that football practice started the next day and I asked the coach if he knew Ryan," Noreen Gaske, Ryan's mother, said. "He didn't and I said well we have to talk a little."

Ryan was born with down syndrome but that hasn't stopped him from doing anything.

"He just loves sports and so I figured, well, Ryan's got this," said Noreen.

Because Ryan was always taught that down syndrome isn't a disability. He's never taken no for an answer and that desire to succeed is easy to notice. 

"If you look at Ryan you might say well how can he play football", said Clarence head coach Paul Burgio. "Well if you come watch him, that's all you need to know."

Ryan is disciplined when he does something wrong, he's eager to get better and he works just as hard as anyone when it comes to drills.

"He accomplishes the task," said Burgio. "He's not gonna stop until he learns it correctly."

Because while Ryan may have one extra chromosome, he's first and foremost number 80 on the football field. 

A small stature, yes, but his heart and determination is as big as anyone's.

"Maybe he doesn't do a lot in a football game," said Clarence junior Mack Rider. "But it inspires us to want to get up and he comes to practice, every single day, with a smile on his face and always inspiring us."

With every day, Ryan continues to chase his dream of succeeding and to one day have a job.

It's just like the chase he makes to the end zone in the middle of every practice; a long distance at first but one that gets closer with every step.