SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- It was a life taken too soon. A little more than a year ago, 16-year-old Ryan Blanchard was shot and killed at a home in the Riverside neighborhood.
Tonight, on what would have been his eighteenth birthday, folks came out to remember a vibrant life cut short.
You wouldn't want to call it a memorial -- tonight was more like a celebration. A couple hundred people came out to Riverside Park to get together and share memories about the guy everyone called "R.B."
For at least one night, Ryan Blanchard's young spirit was in everyone's hearts. But today, a day when Ryan would have been able to call himself an adult, his mother can't stop thinking about her little boy.
"I miss his smile. I miss his beautiful blue eyes, I miss his kind heart," said Ryan's mother, Becky Seitzinger.
Becky says parents need to make sure their children are on the right track, to keep them in school, off drugs and away from the wrong people. She's lived through a parent's worst nightmare and says there's one more thing parents need to do to keep their kids out of harm's way.
"If you have guns in the house and have any teenagers, anybody under 21, keep 'em locked up. Please, just keep 'em locked up," Seitzinger said.
To go along with an upbeat day, surrounding a sad occasion, everyone let their balloons fly at 7:30. While there were plenty of tears, laughter mainly filled the park tonight, because they know that's how their son, neighbor, and friend would have wanted it.
Becky Seitzinger wants to make sure this never happens to anyone's else's child, and tonight was her way of reminding everyone what they stand to lose.
Becky's searching for a way to further keep Ryan's spirit alive. Something she's exploring is setting up a scholarship for a West High School student.