When Brad Ryan left his beloved town to study for college, he also went on a major outdoor adventure at the Appalachian Trail. Being close with his grandmother, Joy, who is also from the same town, expressed her regret for not going on many trips outdoors.
“She told me at that time that she really, really regretted that she didn’t get to do more of that type of thing and have more experiences in life,” he explained to CBS News.
At 85, one will find Joy Ryan in a small house in a small town, living for 20 years as a widow. When she was 40, her two sons died, and worked at a minimum wage job, until she reached her 80s. Her situation was too difficult to leave space and time for an outdoor leisure like that of Brad’s. Her priority was to make ends meet daily.
During the time that Brad was on his way to finishing veterinary school, a major incident happened to his classmate. He felt the need to go out of campus and take a breather. “I needed an escape from campus,” he told Good Morning America. Knowing Joy’s sentiment regarding his trip, he decided to take Joy out to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This marks the beginning of their bond.
Brad and Joy’s relationship is truly one of a kind. It’s not everyday that you see a 30 and 80 year old go out for a hike in pairs. They enjoyed each other’s company so much, that Brad decided to continue going on trips with his grandmother. This also made Joy very happy because finally, her desire to to go out was granted with the help of her thoughtful grandson.
“During that trip, that’s when I started to realize how unconventional it is for somebody in their 30s, a grandson, to be traveling around with their grandmother,” he told CBS News. “We definitely stood out like sore thumbs everywhere we went.”
Brad went out of his way and even created a GoFundMe page to help shoulder their trip. He wanted to reach an amount enough to cover their visit to 21 U.S. National Parks in a span of 28 days.
After their first trip together, they have been continuing their journey and are on their way to their goal of visiting 61 National Parks.
“We’ve seen grizzly bears, we’ve been charged by a moose … it was harrowing,” Brad added to CBS News. “We’ve had all these dramatic experiences and seen all this wildlife that she’s never set eyes on in Ohio.”
“At her age, she’s very cognizant that at every moment, she’s probably seeing something for the first and last time, and that has dramatically changed the way I live my life as well,” he continued.
Their duo has taken over social media with everyone expressing their joy and heartfelt insights towards the pair’s genuine bond. Brad created an Instagram account for their travels, which now has 16,900 followers. See and follow what’s the latest on their travels on their Instagram account, “Grandma Joy’s Road Trip.”
Learn more about this dynamic duo of grandson and grandmother, watch the video below: