How 'Banana Split' Facebook party created by mother of dying 21-month-old is helping families cherish the small moments
15:56 GMT, 21 June 2012
A mother's final wish for her dying 21-month-old son is for other parents to share banana splits with their children.
Ryan, the son of Diane and Erik Roberts from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was born with Down Syndrome as well as a congenital heart defect and is said to be weeks away from death.
In an effort to encourage other parents to cherish their time with their children, a family friend created Ryan's Banana Split Party on Facebook, which has attracted the confirmed 'attendance' of more than 31,000 Facebook users from around the world.
The event invites families to share banana splits with one another and then post a photo of them doing so onto the Facebook page.
Tragic: Ryan Roberts, a 21-month-old baby, is just weeks away from death. A family friend created a Facebook page to encourage mothers to cherish time with their own kids by sharing a banana split with them
Families and singles from around the world have posted hundreds of pictures of themselves to the event's page.
Ryan's parents were earlier this month that doctors could no longer do anything to help the baby's heart.
As a result, Mr and Mrs Roberts stopped his supportive care and declared him DNR – Do Not Resuscitate.
Mrs Roberts allowed her friend Melissa Doerfler Neidhardt create the Facebook event, which reads: 'As some of you may or may not know, I have a “Heart Mom/Dad” friend that had to make some very difficult decisions yesterday, decisions no parent should ever have to make.
Parents: Diane and Erik Roberts stopped Ryan's supportive care after learning doctors were unable to help his heart any longer. The Facebook event invited just 200 friends originally and now has more than 31,000 'guests'
'Through all of this, their one wish for their son Ryan is for everyone to have a banana split for dinner, because Ryan will never get the chance to have one and they just want us to do something with our children so they can remember and just have fun!!!
'So I am throwing Ryan his very own Banana Split Party,' it continues. 'Although he will not be able to have one, I thought it would nice if we could all have one for him, whether you have children or not.
'Who cares if your children don't get their veggies one night for dinner, allow them to “break the rules” for just one night and think of a special little boy while you're doing it!!'
Mrs Roberts told HLNtv.com: 'We're just
shocked at all these banana split parties that are going around for
Ryan. Who would have thought a 21-month-old could have brought so many
smiles to so many faces'
Support: Other parents and children, like the two above, have posted photos of themselves onto Facebook
Open hearts: Another posted photo is captioned with: 'Ryan your awesome! I wish I could meet you'
International: Families from all over the world have showed their support, including the above family from Italy: 'Enjoying banana splits in Italia for Ryan!! Praying for all of you. Che Dio vi benedica in Livorno, Toscana'
Photos from as far as Abu Dhabi, South Korea and Italy have been posted on the page as support from all over the world continues to pour in.
The family have also created a bucket list for Ryan.
She said, running through the list: 'He had never had a puppy, we put him on a bike so he could ride a bike… he finger painted. He coloured with crayons, he coloured with markers.'
Ryan even 'drove' his first car and took to it like a typical teenager.
'He got his first speeding ticket, issued by the City of Pittsburgh police, in the hospital,' Mrs Roberts said.
He also 'drank' his first beer 'with his daddy on his 21-month birthday'.