Dear Ryan: Documenting A Legacy How one brothers dreams became anothers only hope.

Filming the documentary. Courtesy Susan and Landon Moss.

Letting Ryan Live

Nearly eight years ago, Ryan Moss set out on a solo hike in the mountains of Colorado. Though this was not out of the ordinary for Ryan, a fall would cause this trip to be his last. Ryan’s family, who watched as he lived an authentic and adventurous life, was now faced with the challenge of learning how to do the same in his absence.

Ryan’s brother, Landon Moss, and mother, Susan Moss, eventually began honoring Ryan’s life and legacy through Apparel with Purpose, based around the ‘Head Up Eyes Forward’ mantra Ryan instilled in Landon during his darkest times. This idea morphed into Moss Mountain Outfitters, a place dedicated to letting others celebrate Ryan by purchasing outdoor equipment, materials, and supplies needed to participate in the activities he once loved.

Over the years, Ryan’s family has found much peace and success in sharing Ryan’s story and passions with others, as well as giving back in ways that were important to him. A new documentary works to not only capture the beauty of this and Ryan’s life, but also the depth of his relationship with Landon, which ultimately saved him in the end.

Dear Ryan: Documenting A Legacy How one brother’s dreams became another’s only hope.
Ryan and Landon Moss. Courtesy Susan and Landon Moss.

Bittersweet Blurred Lines

When it came to Ryan and Landon, they were “the kind of brothers that were also best friends.” Landon was no stranger to hardships, but Ryan never let him suffer alone. In the documentary, Landon talks about his battles with anxiety and depression. At about 350 pounds, smoking nearly two packs of cigarettes a day, Landon was struggling “pretty severely.” After Ryan’s death, “I couldn’t function,” said Landon, who recalls being nearly hopeless.

“He left when I was at my lowest,” explained Landon, who said this is one of his biggest regrets. Riddled with grief and guilt, “I avoided all of his belongings for almost two years,” he said. When Landon finally dug into one of his brother’s boxes, he found the silver lining that would help him overcome all of this: a painting Ryan gifted him just a year before he passed.

Ryan’s painting featured a man in a hat, which you might recognize as the logo for the ‘Head Up Eyes Forward’ brand. Landon felt like finding this was Ryan’s way of reminding him to never give up. “I just saw that painting and made a decision,” Landon said, “I was gonna live for the both of us.” Now committed to a healthy, active lifestyle, Landon bittersweetly recalls how there was “such a blurred line between” where Ryan’s life ended and his began.

Dear Ryan: Documenting A Legacy How one brother’s dreams became another’s only hope.
Susan and Landon Moss. Courtesy Susan and Landon Moss.

Extreme Intention

While he was here, Ryan longed to show Landon how good life could be if he would just step outside of his comfort zone. “And eventually, it worked,” said Landon. It worked so well that Landon began living his life as intentionally as Ryan. Landon lost over 175 pounds, fell in love with running, and jumped into his own adventure of juggling a retail business amid a pandemic.

Though Head Up Eyes Forward began as a small t-shirt shop, Landon and Susan decided to make the brand strictly non-profit in July of 2022. Expanding their additional merchandise, this is when they opened the Moss Mountain Outfitters storefront. As of 2023, the Head Up Eyes Forward nonprofit has helped raise and donate over $30,000 to charities throughout Danville, and in surrounding regions. They choose these intentionally, just as Ryan would have.

Dear Ryan: Documenting A Legacy How one brother’s dreams became another’s only hope.
Head Up Eyes Forward Documentary April 6, 2024 – 7 PM The Historic North Theatre

“I can’t wait to show you what you’ve created.”

Early in 2022, some of Ryan and Landon’s friends began talking about other ways to share the brothers’ story. Working for TA Films, a major film studio in Charlotte, NC, these friends had an opportunity to capture the essence of who Ryan was, who Landon had become, and what the family’s business is all about. In October, they began filming Head Up Eyes Forward, and now, they’re ready to share it with the world.

Ryan was loved so deeply that you can feel it in the store, you can see it in his family, and you can even continue to experience his presence through this documentary. If you want to be a part of that, be sure to mark your calendars for the April 6 viewing of Head Up Eyes Forward. This will take place at the Historic North Theater in Danville,  at 629 N Main St., at 7 pm. You can reserve your seat now through their Facebook event, the QR code below, by contacting the theater, or calling the store.

While Landon worked hard for what he has today, he is humbly “so proud of what [Ryan] created.” This documentary is not Landon’s way of putting himself on display, but instead, his way of showing Ryan all that his spirit has been able to accomplish since that tragic day. While you can continue supporting Landon and his family by visiting the store, donating to the cause, and attending the viewing, you can continue supporting Ryan’s dreams by simply taking care of yourself, doing what you love, and daring to take a risk every now and then.

Moss Mountain Outfitters

326 Main St Suite 102
Danville, Va. 24541
(434) 835-2641