Gary Wyman remembers in movies a year after his death from ALS


On December 21, 2018, Gary Wyman, 38, an avid outdoorsman, passed away from ALS. December 21, 2021, From the passenger seat, a film documenting a 28-day road trip Wyman took after his diagnosis, will be shown online.

Raised in Evergreen, Wyman started snowboarding at an early age at the Loveland Ski Area. After Never Summer, a Denver-based snowboarding apparel and apparel company, was founded in 1991, he became a brand-sponsored young athlete, using his products and promoting them on the slopes. He continued to work in the outdoor industry for most of his life, including one job with Patagonia and another with Icelandic Skis.

While working for Icelandic, Wyman met filmmaker Gabriel Rovick, Founder and Creative Director of F4D Studio, a Golden-based studio that specializes in visual creation services for everything from marketing and social media to filmmaking. Wyman and Rovick, who shared many friends and a love of adventure, ended up working on film projects together.

In 2016, Wyman married his wife, Katie. She soon noticed that his speech slowed down slightly and that he felt a weakness in one of his hands. In the movie, she says that when she saw a Vice News video about ALS, she immediately knew what was wrong with her husband. Just four months after their marriage, Wyman was diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that wastes muscles and spinal cord.

People with ALS have a life expectancy of two to five years after diagnosis. In 2018, Wyman decided to take a trip across the country in his refurbished Volkswagen van and asked Rovick, whose wife is a nurse who was helping him take care of him, to accompany him.

Rovick remembers that Wyman “was like, ‘You should come and you should film it, and we should do a video about it, because that will be really cool.’” So Rovick did it.

Click to enlarge Gary Wyman, friends and members of F4D Studio embarked on a 28 day road trip.  - F4D STUDIO

Gary Wyman, friends and members of F4D Studio embarked on a 28 day road trip.

Studio F4D

The first day of the 26-day road trip was August 1, 2018. The route went south from Denver through Arizona, up the West Coast to Canada, then back down to Denver through Yellowstone. Originally the goal was to make a video showcasing the expedition, the beautiful views and the fun, but that has changed. “It really turned into this longer movie afterwards when I came back with all of that footage and that long experience. [I] I looked back at him and thought to myself, “Wow, that was huge,” Rovick recalls.

Wyman describes his own diagnosis in the film, holding the camera in his hand and speaking to him directly. Throughout the trip, he stresses the importance of saying “I love you”. Friends joined the couple for different stages of the trip, giving them the chance to often say both “I love you” and “Goodbye.” “The first set of goodbyes was really like, ‘Yeah, that’s an important thing,'” says Rovick.

The hour-long movie also includes a goodbye from Wyman. In this post-travel interview, Wyman, who used a computer to speak after the progression of ALS, discusses his decision to use the Death With Dignity Act to end his life, sharing how he went from anger and resentment at the time of his diagnosis to making peace with it. “What did I do to make all these people want to come with me and help me?” Wyman asks, reflecting on those who have supported him on his road trip and the trip of his life.

Click to enlarge Katie Wyman joined her husband for a leg of the trip to Canada.  - F4D STUDIO

Katie Wyman joined her husband for a leg of the trip to Canada.

Studio F4D

This community support is another aspect of the film that Rovick hopes will remain loyal to viewers. Not only should they enjoy the day and tell people they love them, but they should also ask for help when they need it.

“The film is not just for terminally ill people,” he notes. “It’s also for people who struggle in another way. It’s okay to have pain and feelings and then also to ask for help.

The film is also designed to educate the audience about ALS and how to help fight the disease. Wyman and many of his family and friends discuss how they heard about ALS but never really thought about it beyond the 2015 Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral trend people are throwing money at. ice water on the head to raise awareness of ALS.

In fact, Wyman used the Ice Bucket Challenge to publicize his diagnosis on social media and to announce a fundraiser for his medical and ALS research that was held at the Ogden Theater. Funding for the film also comes from donations.

“The goal is to continue to educate people, using the film, about what ALS is and to raise funds so that we can help with ALS research,” concludes Rovick. “There is certainly some progression going on, but … there is still no cure.”

look
From the passenger seat from 7 p.m. on Monday, December 21 on Vimeo on Demand. A portion of the proceeds will go to ALS research; to learn more, visit thepassengerseatfilm.com.



Comments are closed.