In the fall of 1999, Ryan Hockensmith was a 21-year-old student at Penn State University studying journalism. At the end of October, he experienced a headache, neck pain and excruciating pain in his feet. Soon after arriving at a local hospital, he was transported by helicopter to Penn State Hershey Medical Center. During that trip, he was placed in a medically induced coma. Ryan was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis and remained comatose for a week, missing his 22nd birthday. He survived, but his hands and feet were permanently damaged.
Ryan spent a month in the hospital, including a week in rehabilitation, where he learned to walk and use his hands all over again. After enduring multiple toe amputations, he eventually had the front ends of both feet removed. His size-12 foot is now a size-5.
Ryan returned to Penn State University and graduated in 2001. He is now a deputy editor at espnW. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and three daughters, and is dedicated to educating others about meningitis and its prevention.