Grandma Joy breaks world record while bonding with grandson

At 93 years old, Grandma Joy broke the world record in May 2023 for being the oldest person to ever visit all 63 US National Parks.
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 3:05 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Joy Ryan, better known as “Grandma Joy,” has been on a mission to break a world record. Stories of her travels alongside her grandson Brad Ryan have flooded social media as feel good content for a few years now.

“She’s 93 years young, and she broke a world record of oldest person to ever visit all 63 US National Parks,” said Brad.

Even after reaching this milestone, she’s shown no signs of slowing down.

“You have to stop and think, it’s a big wide world out there and I’m used to being in just a tiny part of it,” said Joy. “It’s just been exciting and a wonder to see all of the things that we’ve seen and met all these wonderful people. And you just have to stop and pinch yourself and ask ‘is this really real? Or is it just a dream?’”

The pair started roundtripping to national parks a few years ago. But brad says after studying abroad the bigger dream became getting to travel internationally with Grandma Joy.

They are now in their new era of “international Joy” and hoping to see the biggest mountains of the world. Grandma Joy says she’s enjoying the ride.

“As an undergraduate student, I went to Kenya, and she was the one who took me to the airport,” said Brad. ”I just remember being both thrilled and excited to take all of that in and to see the wonderful wild animals out in the Serengeti. But [I was] also really sad that my grandma, who I knew would have loved that experience so much, didn’t get to join me for that adventure. And so when I came home, and I was sharing all these stories, I felt a little bit guilty about that.”

This year, that dream became reality when he and Grandma Joy finally experienced the magic of Kenya together.

They were able to see the “Big Five” most dangerous animals to hunt. That includes the buffalo, elephants, black rhinos, lions and leopards.

Grandma Joy says she is grateful for Brad’s thoughtfulness of including her in this bonding experience and a chance of a lifetime. Otherwise, as she says, she would still be sitting on her front porch.

Brad says he now wants to make this kind of travel a reality for others.

“We really are at a point in the journey where now it’s about how can we pay it forward? My biggest dreams would be to find those other Grandma Joys in the world wherever they may be... There’s so many people on this planet that have waited forever to just have a taste of what Grandma Joy and I got to experience and I want to bring them along for the ride too,” Brad said.

Until then, Grandma Joy says it’s important to continue setting those goals and making the most of every single day.