For the past few weeks, Benicia High School has been raising money for
a severely injured wrestler from Pleasant Hill.
On Jan. 10, College Park High School sophomore Ryan Joseph suffered
an injury to his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down
and affecting his ability to breathe and speak on his own. He was
transferred to John Muir Medical Center’s trauma department and
recently moved over to Craig Hospital in Colorado, where he is
receiving specialized treatment. As of his most recent prognosis, he
has regained the ability to speak and has practiced breathing without
Friends of Joseph established a GoFundMe page to help his family pay
for medical expenses, rehabilitation and accessibility. The campaign
has raised more than $183,000, and nearby high schools, including
Benicia High, have found ways to support Joseph and his family.
Craig Holden, Benicia High’s athletic director, said he had become
aware of Joseph’s story through word of mouth, namely Facebook posts
and at a meeting for athletic directors in the North Coast Section,
the league which College Park High competes in and which Benicia High
is moving to next year. The next day, on Jan. 18, Benicia High was
going to have a dual wrestling match against Fairfield High School,
and the athletics department decided it would be a good opportunity to
“The wrestling communities are a tight-knit community, so we try to
look out for our own,” Holden said. “We figured the best way to do
that was to have a donation box at our wrestling match.”
In lieu of an entry fee, the team collected donations for Joseph.
That night, $516 was raised and donated to the GoFundMe account.
Additionally, before the match, both teams stepped on to the mat,
formed a circle and had a moment of silence for Joseph.
The giving continued Monday when Benicia High had its 100th day of
school, which featured a variety of activities. As part of this
celebration, the leadership class asked students to donate 100 pennies
for Joseph. The fundraiser was continued at the school’s Open House on
Holden expressed gratitude for the amount of support Joseph has
gotten from the BHS community.
“It’s an awesome event to come together for an awesome young man,” he
said. “It’s an unfortunate situation that no parent, coach, athletic
director or school wants to be put through, and we’re just trying to
do what we can to help lessen the burden of what that family’s gonna
go through for the next 10, 20, 30 years. If we can do one small
little gesture to say ‘We’re thinking about you, we’re in your corner
and we want to help any way we can,’ then I think it’s an awesome
The GoFundMe page can be accessed at gofundme.com/help-our-