They gave Daniel Kryzer five years to live, and he scored seven.
Two Decembers ago, Kryzer reported the news on Facebook that he’d defied that initial diagnosis. Because of Lou Gehrig’s disease, he’d already lost his ability to walk or speak.
“Five years ago Dr. Walk told me that I had ALS,” Kryzer posted. “Now, I’m beating the odds and a rebel with a cause to live to see my children get married.”
Hundreds of “likes” and sentiments showered the page he created in 2009, the year the disease was diagnosed.
Kryzer, of New Brighton, died Feb. 26, two weeks after his wife, Andrea, died of breast cancer. They faced terminal illnesses while raising their kids Jax, 9, and Ella, 8. Kryzer was 40.
Kryzer saw his end coming just as vividly as he saw other worldly events, according to his Facebook posts. He saw the Wild game last St. Patrick’s Day while sipping a Coors. He saw many episodes of “Sons of Anarchy.” In 2014, he saw “Interstellar,” starring Matt Damon — and was “on the fence” about the implausible ending.
“Thought is slower than the speed of light,” he posted. “I’m stuck on the ending, bad ending.”
He saw that former Penn State football star Steve Smith also had ALS, and kept fighting it, and he felt inspired. He saw that a new breakfast sandwich — a greasy, sausage-patty dream on an English muffin — was coming to the State Fair. He saw Jax’s baseball games last summer.
“If there was something, he was always there,” Kryzer’s mother, Diane, said. “Birthday parties, births, somebody got sick, he was always there to help.”
Before the diagnosis, before the wheelchair, before the feeding tube, Kryzer played football.
He played in high school while growing up in New Brighton, and again in college at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. He graduated and worked as a computer programmer for Oracle — once thinking he’d be an oceanographer or design video games.
Kryzer had a bad concussion once, his mother said, and a doctor at a neurological clinic told him he’d find out the damage when he was 40.
“Well,” she said.
His younger brother Darrell sensed a red flag when Kryzer lost during an arm-wrestling match at a bachelor party. On Darrell’s knee, a scar still reminds him of a childhood day when he knelt into a rusty nail, concealed by grass, and Kryzer slung him over his back to run home. His older brother was tough, strong.
“It was hard to understand,” Darrell said. “I didn’t really know much about the disease.”
Behind his black, thick-rimmed glasses, Kryzer’s crystal blue eyes still twinkled at 40 — especially at his kids. His high school buddies used to call him “Cruiser” because of those eyes. He took a group of them to Texas Roadhouse when he first found out the news. They still played their annual draft last summer, gathering for pizza at New Hope Bowl.
“It was like someone punched me in the stomach,” said Chris Meyer, a longtime family friend.
Kryzer wheeled through his mortality with fervor, staying young.
“He did a lot of stuff that likely wouldn’t have happened had he not ended up having this disease,” Meyer said.
Gazing into a video camera, he recorded a rendition of “Let It Go,” the popular song from the Disney movie “Frozen.” He missed some of the lyrics, laughing, and posted the video on his YouTube account: “Daddy singing Frozen for Ella.” On Facebook, he added, “What we do for our daughters.”
A few years after his diagnosis, Kryzer’s friends and family took him for a one-week trip to Las Vegas. He saw a metal concert, one of his favorite genres, and the national rodeo finals. He peered over Sin City during an aerobatic thrill ride.
“Well, what kind of ride do you want to have today?” the operator asked.
“I’ll have to tell you like it is,” Kryzer said. “I have ALS. I only have X-amount of time left.”
So what’s your speed?
Besides his children, Kryzer is survived by his parents, Diane and Steve, brothers Douglas and Darrell, and a sister, Stephanie Kryzer. Services have been held.
Natalie Daher • 952-746-3285