The 10th annual Ryan Odelle Mance Memorial evening of jazz and scholarship dinner benefit raised more than $34,500 and paved the way for 10 African-American male students to go to college.
For Patricia Daniels, it marked the conclusion of the program that began on that cold, heart-stopping and ugly day in Prince George’s County when she found her son, Ryan Odelle Mance, dead in their home.
“Yes, I do,” Daniels said this week when asked if she believes she’s fulfilled her mission of paying tribute to her son by helping other students.
“When I started out talking to my sister and asked her if she’d do a tea and she asked me how long you will put yourself through this and I said to her if I could make it to 10 years I will feel as though I did something to make a difference,” said Daniels, who’s auctioning off her dream car to make sure to fulfill scholarship promises to the 10 new recipients.
“I had always wanted a BMW and when I purchased it, I was 50 and it was my dream car,” Daniels said. “I’m almost 70 and I’ve kept it ever since but now I’m trying to get as much as possible for the scholarship so that we can make sure that we provide for the scholarship recipients.”
Prince George’s County officials have given Daniels a permit to raffle off the pristine 2001 740IL BMW to raise scholarship funds.
A drawing will be held at the Ryan Odelle Mance Foundation annual golf tournament in September and Daniels said the money will allow her to honor the four-year commitment to existing recipients through 2022.
“My thoughts as of today is to dissolve the organization in 2022,” Daniels said. “I will be 73 years old and last December my husband had a minor stroke and I got to realize that I have more years behind me than I do in front of me and we’d like to spend as much of that time focused on each other.”
The idea for the scholarship fund came nearly 20 years ago after unspeakable tragedy. Daniels arrived home one November night in 1999 to find her son dead just inside the front door of the family’s home in Laurel.
Ryan was murdered. Police arrived at the house, took DNA samples and later discovered an ATM photo of a man trying to use Ryan’s stolen bank card.
“No one was ever convicted for Ryan’s death,” Daniels said. “Police have told me what they think happened, that he bought someone home with him from a nightclub because he was such a social butterfly.
“No one knows why the person killed him,” she said. “The house was ransacked and the only thing of value the person took was Ryan’s beloved saxophone.”
That saxophone remains featured as the official insignia of the Ryan Odelle Mance Memorial Scholarship Foundation, which began in 2008 with a mission of awarding scholarships to area African-American students.
Sadly, it wasn’t until after his death that Daniels learned that her son was offered a music scholarship to Bowie State University in Bowie.
“Ryan loved people, he loved life, music and he loved blowing his saxophone,” Daniels said. “He had no idea that his brother, Rod, would eventually design the logo and tag line of the saxophone player in a silhouette to help brand an organization that would be created in his memory,” she said.
During the search for Ryan’s killer, Daniels established a reward fund, offering $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator. An anonymous donor contributed another $5,000.
After spending each anniversary date of Ryan’s death placing fliers on police cars in Laurel, Daniels closed the reward fund and began seeking other ways to use the money in her son’s memory.
That’s when she decided on the scholarship fund.
Today, more than two dozen scholarships have been awarded to qualified students in Ryan’s memory and Daniels said many more will result from the efforts of the foundation, which raises money by hosting various events around the community.
The golf tournament scheduled for Sept. 17 could be its last.
“I’ve run my race and it will have been longer than 10 years when we get these last recipients through college,” Daniels said.
What further convinced Daniels to call it quits was the speech one of the past scholarship recipients gave at this year’s annual event.
“We had one speak this year who graduated from George Washington University and his message was about saving and supporting our sons,” Daniels said. “He talked about the serving part, the supporting part and the saving part and it was just what my heart needed to hear to let go.”
For more information about the BMW raffle and the foundation, go to www.ryanomancefoundation.org.