MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A bell-ringing ceremony was held on the WVU campus to remember two students who died this year, Ryan Diviney and Rylee Burnette.
Burnette was 17 years old and passed away Oct. 10, she is survived by her sister, Kali Hinkle and husband Derek; brother, Tanner Burnette, maternal grandparents, Doris and Randy White; paternal grandmother Debbie Burnette and many other members.
Ryan Diviney, who is survived by his parents and sister, was a 20-year-old pre-law sophomore who was brutally attacked in 2009 sending him into a decade long coma and passed away Aug. 31. The attack happened outside a convenience store after an argument erupted over the World Series.
Diviney’s parents, Ken and Susan, attended the ceremony honoring their son.
“It was one of the most respectful things this university could’ve done for him and being here and realizing mainly the love and the compassion and empathy that they showed toward our family caught me off guard and it was really hard emotionally,” Ken Diviney said. “I wasn’t expecting to be taken so aback by this.”
A member of the Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity, rung the bell three times, just after the campus clock struck noon and rang 12 times to commemorate the two.
Ken Diviney said his son loved WVU and was a proud Mountaineer who was an ambassador for his school, always wanting to show visiting friends and family spots around campus, like Oglebay Plaza, where the ceremony was held.
He said Ryan loved WVU not because of the great fast food or parties but because of the history and the tradition. And when Ryan needed help, Diviney said the school was supportive.
“From the very morning my son was attacked the university has been supportive of us,” Diviney said. “They were in the emergency room with us asking us what we needed, how they could help, they would’ve done anything for us.”
Diviney said it was an honor to see his son’s legacy celebrated because he was a good kid who showed it by working at the Ronald McDonald House and helped hand out blankets at a local Morgantown church. He said his goal was to keep his son’s memory alive.
He said he was thankful to the community for all the support they had provided him and his family.
“I want people to know that when there’s a tragedy it’s all about the community that surrounds that person that’s in the tragedy,” Diviney said. “And I’ve said this before, one of the greatest blessings in my life, besides family, is community. When we were going through all this and we were just trying to hold on, just trying, and community just kept giving us more rope and more rope. And every time I would try to climb up above the fray and just tried to hang on another day more rope was coming down and they got us to this point. There was no saving us but they let us persist.”