West Virginia University
1 Nov

Multimedia project: The Kari Diviney story

Devin | November 1st, 2010

For anyone who doesn’t know, the one-year anniversary of Ryan Diviney’s attack is coming up on Nov. 7. Since it has been nearly one year since his attack, my group and I decided to use that and his sister, Kari Diviney, as a topic for our Journalism 459 multimedia project.
For those unfamiliar with Ryan’s story, he was attacked outside a convenience store in Morgantown, W.Va. following a night out. Ryan and his friends were passing another group of people who were talking about the Phillies’ recent world series loss to the Yankees. Ryan responded to their comments with something pro-Yankees (even though, as I’m told, he was a Braves fan). The group did not like this and a conflict ensued.
Ryan was beaten by members of the group and left in a coma after his head hit the curb. He is still in a coma and requires constant care from his family. He still has seizures due to storming in his brain, basically his brain short circuiting, and he has been mainly unresponsive since the attack.
The two men charged with his attack, Jonathan May and Austin Vantrease, have both been convicted and May has been sentenced to one year in prison for assault. Vantrease is still awaiting his sentencing.
Personally, I think May deserved a harsher sentence because Ryan’s family has to live with his condition for the rest of their lives and, even if he does wake up for the coma, he will never be the same.
The video portion of the project focuses on Kari Diviney and her life at West Virginia University since she decided to attend college there even after her brother’s attack. It allows her to tell her story of what happened to her brother, her adaptation to college life and all the things people have done for her and her family since the unfortunate event.
There is also a print story that goes along with the project which focuses on Daniel Brewster, a professor of sociology at WVU, and all the things he has done for Kari and her family. In it Brewster also discusses his feelings on what happened and how it was handled by the university and community.
What is not in there in total detail is that he felt there is something wrong with society and that is the reason things like this happen. He described May’s sentence as unsatisfactory considering what happened to Ryan, but, as he said, “that’s what the law says.”
Brewster also said that, because May was able to afford a good attorney, that is why he got a relatively lenient sentence. He speculated that Vantrease, being of lower socioeconomic standing and using a public defender, will receive a harsher penalty.
This week for my JRL 459 Capstone class we turned in our completed multimedia projects after working on them for nearly a month. It was my first time working on a multimedia project and it was quite an experience, although, aside from editing and giving my opinion on that process, it wasn’t too much that I don’t normally do already. I was much more involved in creating the print story since I am a News Editorial major, so group member Robert and I did the interviewing and writing for that. I was not involved in shooting film for the video, but I did help write the captions that appear with the slides and photos. I enjoyed the process, except for the monotony of editing which took a long time, but it turned out very well in my opinion.

For more information on Ryan’s story or to donate to his cause you can visit http://ryansrally.org/index.htm
More information on Ryan’s current condition and updates on upcoming events for his cause can be found on his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=173397094453
This link appears briefly in the video, but for more information on storming, visit http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/469858
The full story by The Dominion Post on Ryan’s attack, along with more photos, can be found at http://ee.dominionpost.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=RFBvc3QvMjAxMC8wOS8xOSNBcjAwMTAx&Mode=Gif&Locale=english-skin-custom
The full video can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFVRywVCBKY
and here is the full article:

WVU Professor reaches out to victim’s family

While many people heard about the Ryan Diviney story and chose to do nothing, West Virginia University Sociology Professor Daniel Brewster rallied behind Ryan and informed the public of his story.

“He’s obviously just someone who wants to change the world,” said Kari Diviney.

Using his Facebook page and cell phone, Brewster reached out to the Diviney family and gained a following of student supporters. He has since organized one fundraiser, which helped the family purchase important medical equipment for Ryan.

“The whole thing has changed me. I’m a pessimist, but no matter how bad I have it, the Divineys have it way worse,” said Brewster.

Brewster, who learned about the attack on Ryan from students, was surprised at the lack of coverage from the university and local media.

“I read the Daily Athenaeum everyday, and I didn’t know about it for 10 days,” said Brewster. “I felt like WVU wasn’t doing enough, the student body wasn’t informed.”

He then used his classroom as a forum to inform as well as encourage students to come forward with any information they had pertaining to Ryan’s attack.

Brewster’s background in sociology gives him a unique perspective on crime and the sentencing of Ryan’s attackers.

“As a sociologist, I sat there and I knew what was going to happen,” said Brewster. “One year, that’s what the law says but I wouldn’t call it justice.”

He was reluctant to use the word ‘justice’ in description of the sentencing of John May, one of the attackers. Anything less than a year would have been a slap in the face to the Diviney family, he said.

Almost a year later, Brewster still brings Ryan’s story into class discussions.

“[Ryan] just pops in my head and I try and make a connection,” he said.

Kari, Ryan’s sister, is currently enrolled in one of Brewster’s classes. He decided to give her the book for free.

“Brewster has just been key in everything? he just went above and beyond,” Kari said. “He got himself really involved and he didn’t even know Ryan.”

Brewster also serves as an intermediary between the Divineys and people who want to help. Dr. Scott Myers, a West Virginia University communications professor, contacted Brewster and paid for the rest of Kari’s books. Myers also donated $400 to the fundraiser run by Brewster and two of Ryan’s friends, which raised about $11,000 total.
The fundraiser, held at Dragonfly restaurant in April, was a great success.

“I had this fear that no one would come. There were so many people, the staff couldn’t keep up. That night I would identify as my greatest accomplishment,” Brewster said.

Brewster’s support to the family extends to his personal life as well. He asked his friends and family to make donations to Ryan’s Rally, a fundraiser created to inform the public of Ryan’s condition and to collect donations, in lieu of giving him Christmas presents.

He and four of his friends also used their own money to purchase a Continuous Passive Motion Machine – something insurance wouldn’t cover. The machine is used to help with recovery after joint surgery and allows movement for extended periods.

Brewster still shows concern for the Diviney family. He still keeps in touch through Facebook and texting.

“He’ll text and say, ‘how are you doing?’” Kari said. “He just goes out of his way to make sure he’s there for us.”

Brewster talks to Kari in class and communicates with Ken, Ryan’s father, occasionally and has been thinking about planning another fundraiser.

While Brewster’s actions show the good in humanity, he is not so sure there is a solution to the problem of senseless violence.

“We don’t live in a utopia. I don’t see us changing, we’re becoming more violent and addicted to violent media,” said Brewster “When you add in drugs and alcohol, we become like animals.”

After viewing the video of Ryan’s attack, he said it looked like a pack of wild animals attacking an injured deer.

“They were thugs. You can choose not to do that,” he said.

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