14 Years of Connection – My Ryman Arts Story

By Dennis Ritchey, supporter of the 30th Anniversary Circle of 30

For the past 14 years, I have been a supporter of Ryman Arts. It all began back in 2007 when Kendra Reed, the then President of the National Fantasy Fan Club (NFFC), today known as the Disneyana Fan Club, asked me to co-chair a breakfast fundraiser in benefit of Ryman Arts. While I was well aware of Herb Ryman, had met him and heard him speak on one occasion, I was initially not aware of this organization that had been founded in his honor.

This NFFC breakfast fundraiser would open what was then our yearly week-long convention in Anaheim. The event was held in the Napa Rose restaurant at Disney’s Grand California Hotel and was attended by 101 paying guests – the perfect number for Disney enthusiasts. Having never hosted a benefit like this, I didn’t know what to expect. Well, in the end our members were very generous, and we raised $10,000 for Ryman Arts!

After this first event, I decided that Ryman Arts was an organization I wanted to continue to be involved with. The Disneyana Fan Club continued to have fundraising benefits over the years, raising and donating over $100,000 for Ryman Arts.

Dennis Ritchey speaking at Disneyana Benefit Dinner for Ryman Arts

Dennis Ritchey speaking at the 2016 Disneyana Benefit Dinner for Ryman Arts

While I am not involved with the Disneyana Fan Club any longer, I continue to be a supporter of Ryman Arts and am proud to be a member of the Ryman Legacy Society. Over the years, I have visited both campuses and have seen students working on their pieces. I have received a few notes from students and parents and even a self-portrait from one student thanking me for my support.

Dennis Ritchey with student Johnathan during Ryman Arts class at Cal State Fullerton

Dennis Ritchey visiting classes at Cal State Fullerton

I’m filled with emotion when I attend a Ryman Arts graduation and see the lives that have been changed because of the student’s involvement in this organization. And when I read about many that have gone on to work in the field of art, having their own exhibitions, illustrating books, working on films and animation, and in some cases creating their own art and graphic based companies, I am so honored to have played a small part in some of their lives.

Congratulations on 30 years!

In celebration of our 30th anniversary, Ryman Arts has created a circle of champions who are supporting us by making a donation of $3,000 or more. This Circle is symbolic of our community that forms the foundation of our work and makes what we do possible. We are so grateful for the supporters who have already joined the Circle and the stories they have shared.

With the help of our Circle of 30 supporters, we have raised $123,000 and counting to strengthen our sustainability in 2022. If you would like to learn more or join the Circle and make a contribution, CLICK HERE.