VERNON — In September 1999, the three Ryan brothers moved with their mother, father and little sister into their new home in the Barry Lakes section of Vernon. It was a great place to be a kid with three floors or living space, a community lake and beach within walking distance, a large yard for their dogs, and a state park with trail access in their backyard. It was everything three young brothers could ask for.
A little over six years later though, their lives took an abrupt turn when on Saturday morning, February 4, 2006, oldest brother Michael, then 18, drove with younger brother, Eric, and a friend and arrived at New Hampshire’s Loon Mountain for some snowboarding.
Michael’s first run of the day changed his life beyond imagination when he overshot a large jump and landed hard on his back. The result included not just several fractures and a broken collarbone, but worst of all, a shattered 10th vertebra. He was taken down the mountain and brought to a local hospital after which he was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
His parents, Michael Sr. and Kim, loaded the family in the car for the five-hour drive to Boston. Once there, they met in a “counseling room” with a trauma unit physician who without any sugarcoating bluntly said, “Your son will never walk again.”
For years after, family members traveled around the country to various specialty hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers in the hope of finding a specialist who could help Michael. However, to this day, Michael is still wheelchair bound.
Although Michael, now 26, and brothers Kyle, 24, and Eric, 23, find it’s a challenge to do everything together, they make the best of the situation, whether it’s working on motorcycles together, or taking Michael to “mono ski” in Lake Tahoe, or even skydiving out of the Sussex Airport, the brothers are a team.
Now, together, they're embarking on a new adventure.
A few weeks ago, the Ryan brothers went into business with each other as they took the helm of the Getty gas station on Route 94, across from The George Inn in the township's McAfee section.
In the months ahead, the brothers plan to change it to an an Exxon station. Improvements will include the installation of a canopy over the pumps to make it easier for both their customers and for the station’s attendants.
There is a colorful bright yellow banner over the pumps that reads “Under New Management.”
"The first three days since it's b een open, many people have stopped by and expressed appreciation that the gas station is under new ownership, and with it, comes new hours of operation and improved service," Michael Ryan, Sr., said.
The brothers intend to be “religious” with their hours so the community will come to depend on them. Monday through Friday the station will be open from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m., Saturdays from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m., and Sundays from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.
They want to be considered a community-oriented station while keeping the cost of fuel competitive. In fact, on an unscheduled trip from Barry Lakes to the station on Dec. 7, their prices were tied for the lowest from Canistear Road down Breakneck Road, then Route 515, and then Route 94, a distance that includes six gas stations. Prices were also the same for both cash and credit card, which the brothers hope to maintain after the re-branding.
According to the brothers, they also intend to be a “service” station and will clean car’s windows and even scrape off a bit of snow or ice. They also will check the engine oil of anyone who asks. They want people to leave with the feeling that they’ve had a good experience. The existing repair mechanic, Guy Marthens, will continue to offer his services in three bays on the left side of the station. Propane also will be available in the near future.