Looman family thankful for support after crash claimed life of son

Feb. 19—Ryan Looman didn't know how big his support network really was until he was at the most challenging part of his life.

Looman, a resident of Concord Township, was involved in a car crash on Jan. 27 on Route 608 in Hambden Township, a wreck his 9-year-old son Koby did not survive.

Since then, the outpouring of support has been — in Looman's words — "overwhelming and mindblowing," from benefits to fundraisers to phone calls and hugs of support. The most recent event benefiting the Looman family was a massive youth basketball tournament at Berkshire High School on Feb. 19, the Big Leaf President's Day Elementary School Showcase.

It's a tournament Koby Looman and his big brother Eli would have played in.

"This means so much," Looman said. "We are very appreciative of the support we've received and are incredibly thankful for Big Leaf as an organization for thinking of us. We know our network of support is incredible."

The Big Leaf basketball program has held its elementary school showcase for eight years now, a goal organizer Matt Janssen set nine years ago when his brother Ken died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (i.e. Lou Gehrig's disease).

"But this one hits home more than any of them," Janssen said of Big Leaf's previous fundraising tournaments. "This one really hit home."

Because the Loomans are part of the Big Leaf family, both with Ryan as a coach and his sons as players in the league. Everything this year's President's Day Showcase did was to benefit the Looman family, from the raffles to the T-shirts the kids wore to the game program to the sponsorships.

Janssen said he hoped to raise between $5,000 and $10,000 for the Looman family, whose members are back in their Concord Township home healing physically, mentally and emotionally from a car wreck that took one of their own.

Additionally, a week or so prior to the car accident, Looman's father, Ed, underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor in Steubenville.

"It's been a trying time. Difficult," Looman said.

The former girls basketball coach at Mayfield who is now the head coach at Twinsburg, said he and his family are on the mend physically. He has a broken nose and broken orbital bones in his face, as well as a broken ankle. Wife, Liz, has a broken leg.

"Eli is in a neck brace for four more weeks," Looman said of his sixth-grade son. "He's back at school now. He just got out of a wrist brace.

"Weston has a broken leg. He's got two more weeks in a cast, but he's back to school in a wheelchair," Looman said of his 6-year old son, adding that 4-year-old Victor is in a shoulder sling but "progressing well."

Looman said the emotional scars far outweigh the physical ones, but that the support from family, friends and the community at large has been nothing short of breath-taking.

"Even at Koby's calling hours, it became so evident — and so amazing — how many kids and lives Koby impacted," Looman said. "The power of prayer has been amazing."

Many, if not all of the players who took part in the President's Day Showcase were teammates with or friends of the Looman family and their sons. The impact of the game of basketball and how it gave back to the Looman family this weekend will last years, at least that's Janssen's goal.

"I hope all the kids here today remember this, coming together and doing something for someone else," he said. "My hope is 20-25 years down the road, these kids will strive to do what we are doing and help somebody in THEIR community."