Juliet Ciambrone was happily and busily preparing to entertain family and friends Christmas Day in 2017. But then the unthinkable happened and her world came crashing down. In what has become an all-too-familiar story, her 27-year-old son, Ryan J. Mandel, died of a heroin overdose. It just wasn’t supposed to happen; it wasn’t even a thought in her head in recent times. After all, Ryan had been clean and sober for four years, was in a job he loved counseling others, and, most importantly, being a dad to his baby daughter, Addison.
In hindsight, Juliet believes Ryan’s slip began just a few weeks before the fatal overdose. But what’s most important to Juliet is that Ryan not be remembered as just another statistic – she wants all to understand her son who was loved by all who knew him. Proof came when some 350 people attended his memorial service at Old School Square in Delray Beach. They remembered the caring young man who had a zest for life and loved his family, friends, and animals.
Wayside House has begun a scholarship fund in Ryan’s name. His mother, Juliet, is a long-time board member here. Funds will be used for scholarships for deserving women who want and need our services, but do not have the financial means.
Also, to ensure that Ryan is remembered and that the entire community is made aware of the full extent of the tragic aftermath of addiction to families, Juliet, Ryan’s sister Margot, and Ryan’s friends hold an annual 5K run. Proceeds from that annual run also go toward scholarships for women with addictions to receive treatment at Wayside House in Delray Beach.
And, while it would have been easier to give in to her grief, Juliet owed her son and herself more. “Ryan loved people and helping them. He was always involved in the community and wanted to make it better,” she said of her son who was raised in Delray Beach.
“Drug abuse is a community issue. We need a community that can find better ways to communicate with struggling addicts and help find solutions,” Juliet added.