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A father honors his late son by playing 365 games of catch

“I’ve had catches with couples. I’ve had catches with moms and their children and dads and their children. We’re approaching 200 catches.”

ST. LOUIS — It is heartbreaking beyond belief for a parent to lose a child. Dan Bryan of Terre Du Lac knows the feeling. He lost his son Ethan. But a simple game of catch is helping him through the grieving process.

“The pop of the glove. I love that sound,” Bryan told 5 On Your Side.

The pop stirs Bryan’s heart and soul.

“It gives me so many instant memories of you know of those times together,” he said.

Memories of the times together with Ethan.

“Ethan was an amazing kid. He approached life with a smile,” described Bryan.

Unfortunately, Bryan only gets to see that smile in photographs. Ethan died two years ago while driving home from baseball practice at West County high school.

“September 16th, 2020. I get a call that Ethan was in an accident,” he said.

Ethan was just 16 years old.

“I went through every phase of grief,” Bryan said.

In 2020 he received a book titled “A year of Playing Catch”. The story is now helping him cope with the loss of his son. It is encouraging him to catch a baseball again.

“It’s what Ethan and I would do all the time,” he said.

Bryan is now on a mission to play 365 games of catch.

“The mission is called 'baseball seams to heal'. One, I wanted to honor Ethan. Two, I wanted to get some healing for myself,” he said.

He carries a couple of gloves and a ball with him wherever he goes. He's looking for anyone willing to play a game of catch with him.

“I’ve had catches with couples. I’ve had catches with moms and their children and dads and their children. We’re approaching 200 catches,” he said.

He cherishes the opportunities.

“I soak in every moment," he said.

And as the ball is thrown back and forth popping the gloves, he reminisces and tells stories about Ethan.

“I wanted them who Ethan was,” he explained.

The stories of his son and his accomplishments help Bryan keep his son’s memories fresh.

“My bank of memories, it is what it is and I’m not going to be able to add anything new with Ethan and myself together,” he said.

But in some ways, the catch is keeping them together in spirit.

“He’s with me. He’s just not, I can’t physically see him,” Bryan said. 

The name of the author of the book ‘A year of Playing Catch’ happens to be named Ethan D. Bryan.  Dan Bryan does not believe that it is a coincidence. He is also keeping a journal of his journey and plans to write a book of his own.

If you would like to follow his journey or have a catch with Bryan you can email him at this address: danbryan1775@gmail.com.

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