La Cañada Flintridge resident Shelley Buck released a parenting memoir inspired by the life of her oldest son, Ryder. The book, entitled “Leave Your Light On,” details the quest he undertook to beat cancer, only to die months later in a vehicle accident.
Shelley, an artist who is married to Academy Award-winning director Chris Buck (“Frozen” and “Frozen 2”), tells the story of how Ryder adapted to life after learning he had cancer and how that changed and inspired his relationship with his parents and the world around him. Told through first-person accounts, recollections from friends and family, and Ryder’s own words from cancer journal entries and social media posts, the book shows a parent-child relationship challenged by an unrelenting illness and Ryder’s determination to live on his terms. He remained focused on his goal of becoming a musician despite his diagnosis.
“Ryder wrote the song ‘Leave Your Light On’ about overcoming challenges and the power of a positive perspective,” according to a statement from Book Launchers. “Shelley Buck and co-author Kathy Curtis used that song as inspiration to tell Ryder’s story to showcase the potential of seeing beyond the human exterior of a person and how to ignite your own inner light to spark the same in others.”
“His legacy lives on through this story, which I hope will inspire many people who are faced with the difficulty of hearing and understanding bad news,” Shelley Buck said. “We can’t always change what happens to us, but we can choose how we respond to it.”
Ryder posthumously received the Flame of Hope Award from the local cancer facility where he and his band played for cancer survivors. The Ryder Buck Memorial Scholarship provides college education support to La Cañada High School students interested in pursuing careers in music.
Chris Buck dedicated his 2014 Oscar for best animated feature for “Frozen” to his son’s memory. Ryder was also the inspiration for the song “The Next Right Thing” from “Frozen 2,” and the film’s character Ryder Nattura was named after him.
Buck’s book is “a truly inspirational tale of love and loss, extraordinary happiness, and profound sadness,” Walt Disney Co. Executive Chairman Bob Iger said in a statement. “Words and emotions leap off every page.”
In addition to Iger, the book has been endorsed by several members of the Disney circle including actress Kristin Bell, actor Jonathan Groff, Walt Disney Theatrical Productions President Thomas Schumacher and Jennifer Lee, chief creative officer of Walt Disney Feature Animation.
Shelley Buck is a storyteller and artist who creates jewelry at ShelRae Designs. She met her husband while working for Disney. They have three sons, including Ryder.
Co-author Curtis has worked as a healing artist and writer since 1991 and is a lifelong friend of Shelley. Her programs support the transformation of grief, illness, and emotional barriers through creative expression. She is the author of “Invisible Ink,” a memoir about her own journey through grief.
“Leave Your Light On,” which was released earlier this week, is available in paperback, hardback and e-book formats. It is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org and other book retailers. For information, visit leaveyourlightonbook.com.