Community gathers to celebrate life of ‘superhero teen’ Ryan Wilcox

EL CAJON, Calif. -- Hundreds of people gathered to honor “Superhero teen” Ryan Wilcox at a public celebration of life held at the Shadow Mountain Community church in El Cajon.

The 18-year-old, known for his love of the film "The Avengers," died of complications from leukemia on September 3.

“We can feel the love in this beautiful church and it warms our hearts to know that Ryan was so dearly loved by all of you,” said Ryan’s dad, Mike.

Community members showed up in Ryan’s favorite Captain America shirts and #RyanStrong gear in honor of the inspirational teen.

“He brought us all together as a whole and made everyone become a lot closer as a Grossmont family,” said cheerleader and Grossmont High School student, Kaely Wolfe.

Members of the football team say they dedicated their season to their captain.

“It’s just an inspiration how hard he fought and always having a smile on his face,” said Grossmont High School football player Dawson Feete.

Earlier this year, Ryan’s fellow students rallied when they learned about his dire condition. The ASB coined #RyanStrong across social media and started a campaign to get the actor behind Captain America to pay Ryan a visit.

Chris Evans not only got the message, he recorded a YouTube video for Ryan saying, “It’s people like you with strength like yours that inspire people like me."

Weeks later, members of "The Avengers" cast -- Chris Evans, along with Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey, Jr. -- paid Ryan a visit at his home.

Students say Ryan will be missed, but say he’s inspired them to be more positive.

“Just be more happy about everything,” said cheerleader and Grossmont High School student, Aniessa Gomez.

It’s a legacy the family says Ryan would be proud of.

“In the last 8 months of Ryan’s life, we witnessed so many beautiful moments, which became part of Ryan’s miracle here on earth. So many of you helped in making those moments possible, which is something we will always be grateful for -- always,” said Ryan's dad.

Ryan’s family asks instead of flowers, contributions in Ryan’s memory be made to the foundations that directly impacted his life: The Seany Foundation and Friend of Scott.