Bryan Ho came into this world on August 8, 1994 in Burlington, Vermont greeted by a clear cool day with temperatures around fifty-two degrees Fahrenheit. His parents, Stanley and Grace Ho welcomed their first born son with great happiness and pride. He spent his early youth in Burlington, growing to love the proximity to the natural beauty of his surroundings even accompanying his parents to the peak of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont at the tender age of one. At two years old, he would drag his father out to the backyard to watch the night sky and point to the various stars.
In 1996, Bryan, his parents and his younger brother, Justin moved to Austin, Texas as his father switched employment. He would learn to love the sprawling spaces of Texas and would call Austin his home for the remainder of his life. At the age of three, his parents were concerned about his lagging speech development, and went to see speech pathologists and various doctors to determine the cause of the problem. They could not understand why their son, who was very bright, was struggling with speaking. The doctors would soon diagnose Bryan with Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy, a fatal disease with no known cure. Justin was also tested and found to have the disease as well. His parents were devastated, but determined to give their sons the best life they could.
Bryan would attend Mills Elementary School, Small Middle School and Bowie High School in Austin, Texas with his many friends until the last few months of his life. He was very good at school, excelling, particularly in United States History, where he took and passed the advanced placement test. Ironically, the class he had the most difficulty was Computer Science, despite the fact that both his parents were in the computer field. Bryan's engaging and friendly personality earned him many friends in school, including students and teachers. Despite the clear disadvantage that Bryan had in school due to his lack of mobility, energy levels, and other symptoms arising out of his affliction, Bryan was determined to do the best he could with an eye to eventually graduating and finding his way to Texas A&M, his target college. Bryan would also develop a penchant for automobiles and automobile design, and his eyes would light up whenever he saw a Chevy Suburban, his favorite car.
Bryan's life was marked and in some sense defined by his enthusiasm for travelling, a pastime which was shared by his family. Due to the boys' need to be in wheelchairs as they grew older, the family would embark on many cross country trips in a minivan, no distance too daunting for the Ho family. Their travels would take them from Austin to New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio, Idaho, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Washington, Massachusetts, California, Georgia, North Carolina, Kansas, District of Columbia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Toronto, Vancouver, Nova Scotia, Montreal, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Grand Cayman, and Bahamas by plane, boat or automobile. Bryan would declare Hawaii his favorite state, having fond memories of his trip to the Pro Bowl in 2011 and meeting his gridiron heroes, Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson and many other Pro Bowl players. With his parents tag teaming on the driving, and he and his brother in the back of their modified minivan, as long as there was a highway leading to a destination, the Ho's would be there. Bryan would also make a point of visiting as many national parks as he could, as he never lost his love for the outdoors. In his lifetime, Bryan would visit ten United States national parks. The family made frequent trips to Disney World and Disneyland becoming Disney Vacation Club members in 1999. Bryan was the travel agent for the family, spending many hours prior to a family trip meticulously setting out each place and restaurant that they would visit, and identifying the most scenic and enjoyable route.
Food was another passion for Bryan. He and his family would watch an unceasing number of food shows and his love for food started with the advent of the Food Network on television, and especially Rachael Ray's show, $40 a Day. Bryan would actually meet Rachael Ray at a book signing. Soon, his father was recording episodes of $40 a Day, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Man V. Food, Top Chef, the Next Food Network Star and the list goes on. He would follow the mercurial rise of Austin's own hometown star, Paul Qui, and the family would visit Uchi, Uchiko and the food truck where Paul's culinary creations would tantalize and amaze. On their travels, Bryan would try to visit as many of the restaurants presented on the culinary shows as he could. His favorite foods were sushi, quail, ramen, pork belly (whatever size, shape and sauce), lobster and any Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
Despite Bryan's inability to play, football was Bryan's sport. He followed Bowie High School's football team with great fervor, reveling in their victories and anguishing in their defeats. He was passionate about all of his football teams, the Texas A&M Aggies and the Detroit Lions, going to war over his family's divided loyalties between the Aggies and the University of Texas Longhorns and also enduring endless ribbing from many of the Austin residents. Bryan's leanings toward underdogs made the Detroit Lions his favorite NFL team, which would puzzle his friends in a state where the Cowboys reigned supreme. Undeterred, Bryan could be seen in school sporting a Calvin Johnson jersey rooting for a team which arguably was the worst franchise in the history of the NFL. Later on in life, he would also adopt Peyton Manning as one of his favorite players, admiring the football great for his accurate throwing arm, his football acumen, and his entertaining television commercials. Bryan's love for football took many different forms. While he could still operate a video game controller, he would challenge his brother to Madden NFL and College football games. He was also a team owner of a fantasy football league that had owners from all over the world. Bryan's team, The Aggies would perennially do well, but their successes would be marred by his father's relentless pressure for Bryan to add UT quarterbacks to his roster. Bryan would also become a shareholder in the only publicly owned NFL team, the Green Bay Packers. This week, his fantasy football league honored Bryan's life and achievements by changing the name of the league to The Friends of Bryan Ho Fantasy Football League. It is expected that his father will take over the management of Bryan's team and run it into the ground by drafting all active and inactive UT players.
Bryan was also the consummate "wheelchair" potato. In addition to his food show lineup, his favorite non culinary television shows were the Big Bang Theory and The Office when Steve Carrell was on the show. He would watch them with his brother, and share many laughs together. Despite Bryan's penchant for television, he could never understand his father's obsession with Glee.
Two weeks ago, Bryan, who turned eighteen this year, was able to vote, an act which he took very seriously. He carried out his civic and patriotic duty by being the lone vote for Barrack Obama in the State of Texas.
In spite of Bryan's many diverse interests, the nearest and dearest to his heart was his family. His parents and his younger brother would always be at his side, during the peaks and valleys of his life. He also had very close relationships with his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. There are many of them, and Bryan kept in contact with all of them throughout his life. The countless hours in the minivan with the family of four as they drove through the highways and byways of America, brought a close family even closer together. He and his brother Justin, both cared very much for each other, and Bryan fretted during the entire time that Justin was admitted to Dell Children's Hospital in 2010 for coronary problems. The brothers never fought except for the constant needling between the two about Longhorn and Aggies football, and they would look out for each other, bringing attention to their parents when the other one was in need. Bryan also cared very much for his parents, and helped to convince his father to adopt a healthier lifestyle in 2012.
Bryan's life, although too short was full. Full with the family and friends who he truly loved, full of the memories which he would always cherish, and full of the happiness which he provided all who would be lucky enough to know this wonderful kind young man with the constant smile and the occasional Mohawk haircut.
Bryan passed away quietly in the early morning of Thursday, November 8, 2012 at his home.
Bryan is survived by his parents Stanley and Grace Ho and his younger brother Justin.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Make-A-Wish Foundation of South and Central Texas. Their generosity enabled Bryan to take a cruise to Alaska as his wish in 2011, as well as underwriting a trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl in 2011 as Justin's wish. Both trips made a big impact on the boys, and Bryan would speak constantly about them for the remainder of his life. Anyone wishing to make a contribution to Make-A Wish can go onto their website at http://www.cstx.wish.org/.
The family will receive friends from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Saturday, November 17, 2012 in the Davis Chapel of Cook-Walden Funeral Home located at 6100 North Lamar Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78752.