Seven-year-old Ava Ryan is literally my spirit animal.
The sharp and sassy youngster has become an Internet sensation with her hilarious array of comedic personalities.
She personifies characters such as “Charlene,” your hot-mess best friend, or “Bossy Boss Lady,” who hates her employees and wants nothing more than to be on a cruise.
Ava’s sharp sense of humor and unbelievable wit leaves us cry-laughing with each video. But it’s her mother, Katie Ryan, who’s the most thankful for her daughter’s comedy, as it helped her through the loss of her younger sister, Sarah. When she was grieving, it was her daughter who pulled her through.
“Even in those times, she was able to make me laugh,” Katie told TODAY. “My parents, too—they were in such despair and grief. I think Ava gave them a reason to kind of keep going. She became our sunshine—I know it’s kind of cliché—in the darkest time of our lives.”
Katie’s sister, Sarah, had cerebral palsy, as well as Prader-Willi syndrome, which is a genetic disorder that causes intellectual disabilities and constant hunger.
Despite the obstacles of Sarah’s disabilities, the sisters, who were only three years apart, were very close.
When Ava was born, Katie says Sarah was “so excited.”
They only had a short time together before Sarah passed away in 2011, but she and Ava shared a beautiful bond.
“She would sit with Sarah, they’d play with stickers,” Katie said. “We tried to get them together at least an hour a day, anything to help Sarah get better, to fight through it. Sarah was so adorable. She had such a kind face. Ava really took to that and genuinely loved her.”
Katie credits Ava for giving her “a reason to get up” in the morning, when all she wanted to do after Sarah’s death was wallow.
“It was such a weird time in my life because I was going through the most grief I’d ever experienced, but I also had this little girl with me who I just adored,” Ryan said. “I think just having a reason to get up, and not kind of wallow in my sadness…I was able to put it aside.”
It wasn’t long before Ava’s personality really began to develop. Katie would record some of the funny things her daughter would do and say, and look back on them when she was having a rough time.
“She started to develop this really silly personality and I was taking videos,” Ryan said. “I didn’t think her humor was going to translate to so many people. I just thought she was funny to me, because she’s my daughter.”
Today, Ava’s healing humor has made her an Internet sensation. Katie says her 7-year-old carries a notebook around with her and jots down ideas for new characters whenever they strike. She insists that Ava comes up with most of the videos and personalities on her own.
“She’s naturally funny,” Katie said. “Her take on the world is innocent, but also a little mature, and I think people relate to that in some strange way. She’s so smart for her age when it comes to picking up social cues.”
Ava’s aunt Sarah isn’t here to watch the videos, but Katie is confident that she would have found her niece “hysterical.”
“She loved to laugh. She had the best laugh in the world. She would have gotten such a kick out of her.”
One thing is certain, Ava’s videos are sure to make anyone’s day just a little brighter.