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Fundraiser to honor late south Forsyth resident
Ryan - Sheepdog - UGA shirt WEB

SOUTH FORSYTH -- A non-profit will soon host its first event in memory of a south Forsyth County resident.

At 6 p.m. on April 15, Sheepdog Connect will host its inaugural benefit event, “Celebrating Ryan’s Legacy Under the Stars” at the Laurel Springs Residence in memory of Ryan FitzGerald, a Suwanee resident who passed away unexpectedly in his sleep in 2015.

The event will feature food, a silent auction, a cash bar and live music from David Payton and Ian Haddock. Funds raised at the event will go toward providing scholarships and “various experiential character development opportunities.”

The name of the organization comes from a scene in the film “American Sniper” where the father of Navy S.E.A.L Chris Kyle talks about there being three kinds of people: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs to protect the sheep.

Months before his death, FitzGerald’s parents saw the movie in theaters and told him he was a sheepdog, which the then-20-year-old deflected.

His parents weren’t the only ones to see the resemblance, and hundreds of friends left messages at his memorial service and “told story after story that only served to confirm his parents’ assertion that Ryan was truly a ‘sheepdog.’”

They soon partnered with the North Georgia Community Foundation to take donations in FitzGerald’s honor to provide scholarships in 2016 for participants to travel to Christ in the Rockies in Colorado and Hands of Love in Uganda, both of which had an impact on FitzGerald.

A “Sheepdog of the Year” scholarship will also be awarded annually at Lambert High School.

Tickets to the event are $100. Details about the event and forms for a silent auction and corporate sponsorship can be found at

More information can be found by emailing or by calling (470) 297-8128.