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COLUMBIA, Mo. (KSDK) – As Ryan Ferguson continues to experience a taste of freedom for the first time in 10 years, he's also taking time out to thank supporters.

More than 260,000 people signed a Change.org petition started by his father, Bill Ferguson, and Ryan sent a message to all of those who supported it and him.

"There are few words to describe how I'm feeling at the moment - but let me start with thank you. I am so exceedingly grateful for all that each of you has done to step up, speak out, and lend a helping hand. I would not be here today without all of your support. I am so excited for what the future holds - thank you! Love Ryan."

Ferguson was released from prison Tuesday after spending almost a decade in prison for the 2001 slaying of Columbia Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. This morning, he spent time giving media interviews, including one to the TODAY Show.

His dad Bill also thanked everyone for signing the petition and supporting and inspiring the family during this time.

With his release, the fundraising to help Ferguson get back on his feet continues to grow.

The online campaign reached more than $28,000 as of noon Wednesday with the hope of reaching a $100,000 goal.

Story: Ryan Ferguson fund raising money for his new life

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