The Bachelorette winner, 46, posted Saturday, June 19, to thank his wife Trista Sutter, the first-ever Bachelorette, and their two children, Maxwell, 13, and Blakesley, 12, for their support throughout his time at the fire academy.
“It may not have gone as I’d thought, as I’d hoped or as I’d expected,” Ryan wrote via Instagram. “It was not an easy year or perfect process. It was hard – intentionally so. But it’s in the books now and, with the undying support of my family, I made it – we made it!”
The Colorado native has been a firefighter for several years, but transferring to Denver in 2020 meant he had to re-train for a year.
It wasn’t just the fire academy program itself that was difficult. The retired athlete had been battling mystery illnesses for a year, and he finally received several diagnoses, which he revealed in May. Lyme disease and mold toxicity are his major issues, but he also battled Epstein-Barr virus (which causes mono) and COVID-19.
The former NFL player appeared to be on the mend as he shared photos of himself in uniform alongside Trista, 48, and the kids.
“There is a price that must be paid for almost everything great in life,” he added. “But when the reward is a purposeful existence doing what you love with people you admire and respect, it’s worth it every time. Honored to be a member of The Denver Fire Department. Now the real work begins… Best job I’ve ever had!”
The father of two made sure to give another shout out to his spouse and kids. He continued, “Thank you @tristasutter Max and Blakesley. I truly could not have done this without you. ❤️”
Trista commented, “And we can’t do life without you!! So proud!”
She gushed over her husband via Instagram with a slew of photos from his graduation ceremony.
“When the opportunity to start over in the Denver Fire Academy presented itself, he followed that call and made us all proud once again,” the Dancing With the Stars alum wrote. “But not just because he was going back to one of the most honorable careers in our world or one of the most intense and physically demanding fire academies in the country. Because he would knowingly be fighting to prove his worth among an academy class where many were twice as young; because he would be living and commuting 2 hours away from us and his home; and because he was willing to take a chance on re-discovering his true purpose.”
Trista continued by noting how proud she is that he did this all while struggling with his health: “On top of that, he finished 2nd in his class during a pandemic and while struggling with a disease and viruses that we now know were attacking him from the inside out.”
Her husband of 17 years opened up about the news of his health in May.
“My immune system was weakened through exposures to toxins and especially to mold,” the firefighter said during the May 25, episode of Trista’s “Better Etc.” podcast. “I tested positive for Lyme disease. … It seems like something that I will always have. Now I know, and I can build back my immune system to fight it off.”