Anyone who knows Ryan Cealy will tell you he lights up any room he’s in—this 10-year-old’s energy is irrepressible.

So, when doctors diagnosed Ryan with an advanced form of acute lymphocytic leukemia last November—and estimated that he only had a 40 percent chance of survival—his classmates knew they had to do something special.


But what they did was more amazing than anything Ryan and his family ever wished or hoped for: Inspired by their friend’s courage, they built him this 80-foot-tall neo-Gothic mausoleum in the local cemetery.

Inspiring. With its pointed arches, spires, and impressive vaulted entryway, this funerary monument is a tribute to everything Ryan means to his peers!

It’s hard to find the right words for a friend facing cancer. So, these kids let their actions speak for themselves, hauling limestone blocks to the cemetery for hours every day after school in order to assemble the spectacular tomb as fast as possible. From the ornate granite coffin built into the chamber’s floor to the lifelike gargoyles of Ryan adorning its outer walls, the mausoleum shows what’s possible when kids rally around someone they love.


“Ever since they finished it, the students have insisted on going there every night and praying to it,” said teacher Deborah Bardon, who added that the children built the mausoleum without any help from grown-ups and even acquired the raw materials themselves. “The day Ryan started chemotherapy, they chiseled ‘2014’ into the front wall of the mausoleum. I like to think that was their way of telling him, ‘We know you’re going to beat this. We know you’re going to get better.’”