Q&A: Ryan Wilkins of Ronald McDonald House

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The Ronald McDonald House in Olde Towne East is the second largest in the world, and about 2,500 families stay there each year while their children face extended hospital stays. One of the people they meet is Ryan Wilkins, a kindhearted community liaison who helps make the house a home.

Wilkins talked to Alive about the charity's mission, his music and more.

I'm a Central Ohio boy. I graduated from Thomas Worthington High School in '95. I graduated from Ohio State in 2000. Other than a short stint in Cleveland, I've been here in Columbus ever since. My wife and I came back to Columbus because we started having kids. We knew this was where we wanted our kids to grow up.

My job is busy , exciting and always changing. I had done some volunteer work at the Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland and really appreciated the mission. Some of the most amazing things happen here. It's based on that community that happens between people who have a common experience.

It can be overwhelming. Having kids myself, it's impossible not to put yourself in those shoes every once in a while. But the cool thing about this place is that it really is a place of hope and encouragement. Every day I walk away from here encouraged.

I'm the kind of person who always tries to stay positive.

Three things I can't live without are my relationship with God, my family and my guitar.

I've been singing most of my life. I was a very unique high-school kid. I was captain of the football team, and I was also an all-state choir singer. Those two things don't normally go together.

I didn't really pick up any instruments until I was a freshman in college. I asked for a guitar for Christmas and taught myself how to play sitting in my dorm room. I found out that it's not that hard to write songs, so I started writing. I play guitar, piano, banjo, bass, organ and all that stuff.

One thing I want to do before I die is play at the Grand Ole Opry. I've played in Nashville a couple times, but that's a different ballgame.

The best advice I've ever received is don't ever let fear get in the way of pursuing your dreams.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? Email John Ross at jross@columbusalive.com.

Ryan Wilkins

Age: 34

Day job: Director of community relations and marketing, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio

Neighborhood: Lewis Center

Hometown: Columbus

Web: ryanwilkins.com

Last thing you bought: A pack of gum

Last thing you ate: A chocolate-chip cookie

Last song you listened to: "Your New Twin Sized Bed" by Death Cab for Cutie

Last place you traveled: Augusta, Georgia, for the Masters

Last movie you watched: "Inception"