Children's book written by Ryan Teixeira debuts at Santa Maria school

AGHS grad wrote book battling cancer in hospital

Childrens book written by Ryan Teixeira debuts at Santa Maria school

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Ryan Teixeira continues to inspire. Just over a year after his death, the Arroyo Grande graduate is now a published author.

The Toad's Code, a children's book he wrote in the hospital while battling leukemia, has been released and is already proving to be a big hit.

"This book is priceless. It's really a cute story," said his mother Holly Teixeira. "I'm super proud to share it with everybody."

On Thursday, the Teixeira family, including his Ryan's mom, his father Steve and grandmother Cee, shared it for the first time at Pacific Christian School in Santa Maria.

During the morning, each class came into the school library and received a personal reading of the story by Ryan's grandmother, Cee "Nana" Teixeira.

The reaction from the kids was overwhelmingly positive.

"I liked it because it was a really funny book and it was about a frog," said second grader Hannah Atkinson.

"I like where the toad says 'nice try' because that's like Ryan Teixeira saying the cancer can't get past him, said second grader Ryder Smith.

The story is about stern toad who holds a secret code that allows you to enter a magical land that is the "funnest world of fun."

Along the way, readers must solve a riddle that includes some of things the toad likes best.

Holly Teixeria said that making up riddles and puzzles was something Ryan always enjoyed doing.

"He would love to sit around the table and play games with us and this was kind of game he would play with us at the dinner table and he just presented it as a children's book," said Teixeira.

The idea to write a children's book came from Debbi Pitman, the mother of Ryan's longtime girlfriend Nicole Pitman. 

"One of the weekends that she was (in the hospital), she said I have a project for you guys. Nicole you're going to illustrate a book and Ryan is going to write it. I kind of laughed at her, but Ryan just took off running and started writing immediately," said Nicole Pitman.

Pitman was on hand Thursday at the school, signing copies of the book she indeed wound up illustrating.

"It's really cool to have something that Ryan and I did together," said Pitman. "Especially since he got to see the process of me illustrating and just seeing him get really excited about writing the book."

Pitman is now set to graduate from Cal Poly with a degree in graphic communications. Putting the book together became her senior project.

"I've always like art," said Pitman. "But never would I have thought I would have illustrated a book. It's really cool and it's really cool how much the kids enjoy the artwork and how they interpret the book."

Included in many of the illustrations are references to the number 17. The number was Ryan's favorite, which he wore during his prolific football and baseball career at Arroyo Grande High School. It has since become the namesake of the charitable foundation (17 Strong) he founded.

"It's really cool where you get to find all the 17's in all the pictures," said Smith.

The cost of the book is appropriately $17. All proceeds benefit the 17 Strong Foundation, which provides victory trips to young adults that are battling life-threatening illnesses. 

"We're trying to find avenues to spread the word about 17 Strong and get victory trip recipients at the end," said Holly Teixeira. "That part of it is going well and we're excited about seeing these people going on these trips and it's just a great way, another way to spread the word about 17 Strong."

Teixeria said the foundation provided the first three victory trips last year. She added seven more are planned for this year. Ultimately, she has a goal to provide 12 trips over the course of each year.

As for the book, right now it's available for purchase on the foundation website.

She's hoping for greater distribution, especially in the name-brand online websites.

"I hope it keeps spreading," said Teixeira. "Hopefully, on a national level. Let's think big!"

Right now, the family is scheduling readings at local schools. The next one is set for Harloe Elementary School in Arroyo Grande next week.

"The reaction is priceless," said Holly Teixeira, talking about her experience on Thursday. "These kids are really embracing it and I think it' as special as we feel. The whole thing is pretty emotional, but I know Ryan would want us to share it with everybody and this a great opportunity for us to do that."

To purchase The Toad's Code, visit,

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