4 Apr A Legacy of Community Building

A Legacy of Community Building

Ryan Vaughan was a husband, father, friend, mentor, and all-around cheerleader for our community.

ReadyKids is honored to remember Ryan Vaughan, former ReadyKids Board Member, and celebrate his impact on the community with the Ryan Vaughan Community Builder Award. He had a wonderful personality along with an unparalleled combination of knowledge, heart, and humor. Ryan’s family and friends will remember him for his zest for life, endless curiosity, and dedication to supporting others. 

As the prolifically wise Maya Angelou once said: “people will never forget how you made them feel.” Ryan was sincerely interested in everyone he met and able to quickly make genuine connections, always leaving a lasting impression and making people feel seen. He had a successful career in finance before making the big decision to return to school to pursue his passion to teach

 high school math. He generously donated his time, expertise, and resources to support Charlottesville nonprofits, serving on the boards of Madison House, ReadyKids, AHIP, and BEATDiabetes. 

During his time on the board of ReadyKids, Ryan demonstrated his unwavering commitment to kids, families, and our community. He gave tirelessly of himself to make sure ReadyKids’ efforts reached those who needed us most and he left a legacy that will never be forgotten. Even after rotating off of the Board, Ryan remained a vocal supporter of ReadyKids’ work. This award honors Ryan’s incredible kindness, generosity, and presence. As those who knew him can confirm, we were “all better off for having known him.” 

To honor the lasting legacy of Ryan, we are pleased to introduce the Ryan Vaughan Community Builder Award. The award was created to celebrate an 11th or 12th grade student who has gone above and beyond for their community in small but meaningful ways; demonstrating kindness and character in all they do. Additionally, this  award comes with a $2,500 cash prize. ReadyKids received an outstanding number of nominations, highlighting the profound impact teens have every day in their circles. After careful consideration, a committee of Ryan’s friends and colleagues selected Darmal Danish, a senior at Charlottesville High School, as the inaugural winner.

Nominated by David Wilkerson, his wrestling coach and school counselor, Darmal Danish embodies the purpose of this award through and through. A refugee who fled the Taliban, Darmal and his family escaped Kabul and relocated to Charlottesville in 2020. Darmal enrolled at Charlottesville High School and soon joined the wrestling team. Along with his wrestling skills, his aptitude for leadership quickly became evident. The following school year, Darmal joined the football team and took on a job at Subway, all while attending school.

 “Darmal was an obvious leader and someone who naturally brings people together, serving as a caretaker, an organizer, and an inspirer.” – David Wilkerson

Despite the challenges of learning a new language, a knee injury that left him unable to compete for a season, and a rigorous academic schedule, Darmal didn’t waver in his dedication to his teammates. He attended practices and games even when he wasn’t able to play to provide encouragement and support. When the next wrestling season came around, Darmal was the unanimous choice for team captain. Coach Wilkerson reports, “Darmal shows up every day with a smile, a limitless work ethic, and nothing but encouragement for his teammates and coaches alike.” 

Since arriving in Charlottesville in 2020, Darmal has already made a profound impact on the people in his life. He is seen as a leader amongst his peers and teachers alike, a beacon for other Afghan students, and a dedicated brother and son.



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