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Difference-makers: Ryan Teixeira's impact hasn't faded
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Difference-makers

Difference-makers: Ryan Teixeira's impact hasn't faded

Though it's been 3 1/2 years since his passing, there are still signs of Ryan Teixeira's legacy throughout the Central Coast.

It may be a 17 Strong sticker on a car at the grocery store parking lot or a neighbor wearing a 17 Strong hat, but signs of Teixeira's impact usually aren't too far off.

His most lasting effects can be found within his 17 Strong Foundation. The charitable organization founded by the late Teixeira aims to give people something he never got.

Teixeira was a star linebacker on the Arroyo Grande High football team set to graduate in 2015. But his top sport was baseball. (He wore the No. 17 in both).

Teixeira, an infielder with good hands and a heavy bat, signed to play college baseball with Division II power Colorado Mesa in November of 2014.

However, five months after signing with the Mavericks, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma as an 18-years-old.

Teixeira fought through the treatment and a major surgery to eventually enroll at CMU to fulfill his baseball scholarship.

Teixeira always looked forward to playing for the Mavericks.

"Absolutely great winning tradition, it feels like a great fit. Plus, we can go hunting and fishing on the weekends, hang out with my best friend (Garrett Ball)," Teixeira said at his signing ceremony in 2014. "It's great baseball, too. It's a very baseball-oriented school. From everyone I heard from, they absolutely love it there."

Less than a year after beating cancer the first time, however, Teixeira was diagnosed again, this time with a related form of cancer: Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

After a five-month stay in the hospital, the aggressive disease took his life on March 4, 2017, ending a two-year battle with two different types of cancer.

During his fight, Teixeira's uncompromisingly positive outlook captivated the area. His #17Strong hashtag trended on social media. Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Justin Turner visited Teixeira in the hospital as other major league players became active in celebrating Teixeira's cause.

Players and coaches at Colorado Mesa fully supported Teixeira's battle. Days after Teixeira died in 2017, the team put Teixeira's name in the lineup with him playing third base and batting third. Teixeira's baseball profile at CMU lists the game as his only start with the Mavericks.

"Through it all, he never lost his sense of humor," Ryan's father Steve said at a celebration of life for Ryan in 2017. "Ryan reached more people in 20 years than some people reach in 80."

Due to Teixeira's age at the time of his initial diagnosis, he didn't qualify for a gift from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which fulfills wishes of terminally ill patients up to 17 years of age.

Teixeira's family formed the 17 Strong foundation in response. The non-profit charity's goal is to fund 'Victory Trips' for young adults diagnosed with cancer and are too old for Make-A-Wish.

The group raised enough money to fund three Victory Trips within six months of its founding in 2017. In about three years, the group has funded 35 Victory Trips, sending recipients to 15 countries.

The celebration of life for Teixeira was held at Arroyo Grande High's football stadium as hundreds of guests attended, including members of the CMU baseball team who were on their way to Point Loma for a game. Dozens of former Arroyo Grande High teammates and classmates attended the ceremony.

Last year, the Friends of Ryan Teixeira (FORT) was formed by Tyler Auerbach, a friend and former teammate of Teixeira. That organization has held baseball fundraisers in Teixeira's honor. 

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