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Bowling News USA - August 13, 2014 The Foul Line: Ryan Shafer


Ryan Shafer Knows Struggles of Depression...All Too Well


My beautiful wife Michelle took her own life 8 months ago after battling depression for over a year. There are stigmas attached to suicide. Unfortunately, most people don't understand suicide and are afraid to talk about it.

Monday's suicide by Robin Williams has brought back an all-too familiar feeling to the forefront of my world and my heart, prayers and thoughts are with Robin, his wife, children and friends. But it’s really not a subject for debate or for people to judge.  That being said, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but a knowledgeable perspective may make you change your mind.

We can be hurt, sad and even a little angry in our emotions but the stark reality is, we have no idea how much pain people battling and struggling with depression are experiencing or the amount of torture that is being imposed upon them psychologically. A friend shared a picture on my Facebook timeline today that encapsulated that perspective nearly perfectly.


“Be Kind.

For Everyone You Meet Is Fighting A

Battle You Know Nothing About.”


It seems counterintuitive to take one’s own life, no question. But one must realize the person we knew is not present any longer. And the medications they are taking to help fight these horrible disease can also directly affect their behaviors too. It’s very sad that my wife did not respond to help. She fought it all the way. She knew she was in trouble but she had a hard time accepting therapy and treatment.  Some might say “well she didn’t want help and took the cowardly way out” but I go over it in my head every day and wonder what I could have done differently, but ultimately – she made a decision.

I will be without the love of my life on earth forever now but, her memory lives on in my mind and in subtle reminders in my everyday our cat Wiggles. I’m beginning to be able to smile instead of be angry. There are still times when I am bewildered by the entire situation but I must move forward, living each day to get to the next. I have thrown myself into my bowling and my pursuit of owning a bowling center. I still have a deep emptiness and void inside me, but my true friends have been magnificent. I can only hope that I can be there in their time of need.

In March, the center I’m trying to purchase held a PBA50 tournament in which my sponsor, Dick Gran, participated. It was his idea to collect money from the players to start a scholarship fund in Michelle’s honor. At the end of the day the players, Russ Mills the tournament director and center proprietor Sperry Navone, collected over $1300. It was an unbelievable act of charity and generosity. I felt the need to tell the story on Facebook. The response was overwhelming even to this day.

Over $12,000 has been raised from donations alone. I originally planned to host a regional event when I acquired my center and having the junior pro-am be the scholarship event. One of the reasons for doing it that way was the desire of many players to attend the scholarship tournament. This way, they could be active participants and I would save them a trip. However, even if I acquire the center in a reasonable amount of time, I don't believe the building would be renovated in time to host the first-class event that it needs to be.

Therefore, I have tentatively set up a date at Crystal Lanes in Corning, New York on Sunday, November 16, 2014. This is a beautiful facility which is perfect for my wife’s memory. The details are in the works but through the unbelievable generosity of the bowling community, my wife’s memory will be honored and some good kids will get some help furthering their education through the Michelle Shafer Scholarship Fund.  Hope to have a Facebook page for this journey in the very near future.

It would be irresponsible of me if we didn’t talk about what depression is, what can cause depression, signs and symptoms of depression and most importantly, where and how you can get can help if you’re struggling with this disease, have a loved one or friend who needs help fighting the good fight.

An outstanding resource to learn more about Depression go to:  National Institute of Mental Health


Hotline & Helpline Information


National Suicide Prevention Helpline

  • 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)


Suicide Hotline Listing by State


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

  • Toll-free: (800) 826-3632






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August, 2014