Samsung employees bring Christmas joy to ‘Ryan the Lion’

(KXAN Photo)
Ryan the Lion receiving his Christmas gifts (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — According to Manor ISD Ryan lost his courageous battle against cancer on Wednesday, January 20th, and was laid to rest on Saturday. The district is providing counselors at Decker Middle School and Pioneer Crossing Elementary to provide comfort and support for students during this difficult time.

It is a Christmas tradition. Employees at Samsung Austin Semiconductor setting their own wish lists aside to help struggling families in the Manor Independent School District.

“It’s one of the most rewarding things that we can do,” said Samsung employee Kathy Chou.

This year has been extra special. One family’s challenging situation has made them want to give a little more. “Today we are delivering presents to the Longoria family,” said Chou. “We’ve got a huge game table that all the kids can enjoy, we’ve got a doll house for the little girls. Just a little bit of everything.”

Included in the stack is a long, flat rectangular gift covered in snow white wrapping paper. It is something you will not find in any store.

“I can’t paint,” said Samsung employee Michael Lewis. “But I figured out a way to make something that I think looks pretty interesting.”

After weeks of work, the employees packed the gifts in the car and drove to the Longoria home ready to share some holiday cheer.

Illiana Echols-Longoria and her husband opened the front door. Their 12-year-old son, Ryan, was sitting on the couch. He is the main reason Samsung is here.

“He’s in a place right now that is very scary. It is very scary. We’ve all been told what the end result is going to be, but we are just not going to believe that,” said Illiana.

Ryan was diagnosed with osteosarcoma eight months ago around Mother’s Day. What started as knee pain, turned out to be a cancerous tumor in his leg. The tumor, not reacting much to chemotherapy, grew and doctors had to amputate his left leg just above the knee.

The cancer has also spread like wildfire to his lungs.

“This kid has been through so much and he walks away with a smile every time saying, ‘I got this taken care of. When are we gonna do the next thing,”‘ said Illiana.

That courage brings us back to the special gift inspired by his nickname “Ryan the Lion.”

The artist, Michael Lewis, propped up the present in front of Ryan on the couch so he and his two younger sisters could help tear away the wrapping paper. “Pull it over there toward your sister,” said Ryan. “Oh my gosh.”

He was overcome with emotion as his head dropped his hands. It was a life size portrait of Ryan looking strong, and holding out his hands and arms. The faces of his family members were drawn around his head to create a mane that looked like a lion.

“You’re surrounded by all of your support system,” said an employee.

“That is so cool. Oh my gosh, Ryan,” said Ryan’s mom.

“Thank you. Thank you so much,” said Ryan while wiping the tears from his eyes.

“We are not going to give up,” said his mom. “We fight every single day. Every single day for his life and he is such a warrior.”

It was the perfect present illustrating what family and the holidays are all about.

I’m really grateful everybody got to come and I got to share my story,” said Ryan. “It adds one bit of courage to me every single day.”

The artist, Michael Lewis, created a website to raise money for Ryan which includes pictures of how he created the artwork.

Click here to see the portrait.

Click here for Ryan’s GoFundMe page. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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