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"After 7 rounds of Chemo, I lost my hair, but not my love of livin' life."

- Ryder Buck

Singer and songwriter Ryder Buck was a young man with an unstoppable dream to lift people up through his music. But a threatening cancer diagnosis showed that life had other plans. The disease should have beaten him, but Ryder rose above it all to live from a place of passion.

Then fate stepped in.



“With no warning, he was gone. GONE.”

Leave Your Light On,” is the song Ryder wrote that became his mantra. In this uplifting and powerful story you’ll meet an unforgettable character determined to accept his own quirks and flaws with humor.

And you’ll see a parent-child relationship tested by unrelenting disease.

“I was committed to making sure he lived.

He was committed to living in the moment.

We both needed to win.”

"This amazing memoir comes straight from a mother’s heart. Through Shelley’s words, we learn that Ryder Buck’s light has hardly dimmed. In fact, it shines brighter than ever.

You could warm your hands on it."
Chris Erskine, Author/Columnist

Though it wasn’t cancer that took Ryder, it was the catalyst that helped him grow into the shining spirit he became. His journey of love, courage and truth will convince you that there is no challenge big enough to keep you from putting your special touch on the world.








The Disney + documentary,

"Into the Unknown: The Making of Frozen II" features a segment about RYDER

in Episode 3 .





Shelley Buck was born into a creative family in the Midwest and moved to California after college to follow her dream of working for Disney. It was there she met and fell in love with her husband, Chris, who worked in animation. After they married and had their first child, Ryder, she stayed home to be a full-time mom to him and the two brothers who followed.


She is a writer, storyteller, and artist, which she expresses through her original jewelry at ShelRae Designs. When Ryder was diagnosed with cancer and the journey went to unimaginable places, she poured her heart into writing their story. Her lessons in parenting through these tribulations, combined with the power of Ryder’s larger-than-life spirit, offer profound messages for living in the light.


Kathy Curtis moved into Shelley’s neighborhood when they were both 12 years old, and an instant and lifelong friendship took root. She has worked as a healing artist and writer since 1991. Her programs guide others to find their way through grief, illness, and emotional barriers through the creative paths she designs. She is the author of Invisible Ink, a memoir that came out of her own journey through grief. The unique writing process that brought her so much healing has since become a successful program, both online and at various venues in the Midwest.

Kathy's intimate connection to the Buck family, combined with her writing and healing background, made her the perfect person to partner with Shelley on the creation of this book. 


“I will never be unhappy, again!”


The 15-year-old best friends skipped their way home from cheerleading tryouts, having won their coveted spots on the varsity squad. Traffic whizzed by, but they were in their own cloud of teenaged bliss. Practicing cheers and acrobatics on the lawn every day that summer had paid off, and they finally had life figured out!!


One followed her magical dreams of working at Disney, relocating to sunny California right after college. The other followed her passions for art, writing, and cheering others on through a career in corporate storytelling in cities across the country. Though miles apart and living very different lives, their friendship grew deeper and richer through the years.


Then traffic whizzed by, again. This time, they couldn’t be oblivious to it.


Now, 50 years after forming an instant friendship, they have co-authored a book about the day life broke its promise and heaped an unimaginable dose of unhappiness on the one with all those magical dreams. Together, they found the light in the darkness and the words to bring it back to life.


Leave Your Light On is an unforgettable story - not about their friendship, but about the light that is always there, if only we can find it. 

It is with the deepest appreciation that I share the following endorsements:


“Leave Your Light On is a truly inspirational tale of love and loss, extraordinary happiness and profound sadness. It’s the story of Ryder Buck, who filled the world he lived in every day of his life and left his family and friends with a lasting energy and spirit that will never be doused.”

Bob Iger, CEO The Walt Disney Company


“No matter when you encounter Shelley Buck, it is impossible not to be somehow transformed. Her raw willingness to trust, share and guide is all evidenced in this new memoir, where she recounts the unforgettable journey of love, struggle, loss and discovery, led by her son, Ryder.”

Thomas Schumacher, Producer of the Tony Award Winning Musical, The Lion King

President Walt Disney Theatrical Productions


"Leave Your Light On is a beautiful and heartbreaking journey that highlights the lessons we learn from profound loss. Shelley and Ryder teach us that despite the weight of life's most tragic circumstance, wisdom, perspective and humor always find a way to rise to the top. "

Kristen Bell, Actress


"LEAVE YOUR LIGHT ON is one of the most honest, visceral, and inspiring books about love, loss, grief, and survival. There's no greater loss than that of a child, but Shelley Buck turns her loss into a gift for the world. She gives us the light of her son to carry with us as he inspires us to live our best lives."

Jennifer Lee, CCO Walt Disney Feature Animation


“This searingly honest memoir in all its sadness, tragedy, and humor unleashes powerful emotional forces and a profound understanding of loss, and the cost of loving unconditionally. By turns poetic and pragmatic, but always illuminating, as Shelley shares her story we become part of the family on the journey from denial to acceptance, from pain to a deeper understanding of the true meaning of love.”

Alfred Molina, Actor


"A bittersweet and heart-wrenching tale of a young man’s journey into consciousness through physical hardship. It is a story that will inspire everyone to find the light in their own lives, and to cherish every day of the journey that leads them to it."

Peter Segal, Director, TOMMY BOY, 50 FIRST DATES, GET SMART


Shelley’s unfiltered realness made me laugh and cry in the same sentence, and reading Ryder's story makes me want to put down the sheet music and just JAM. Shelley’s managed to show both the human and superhuman sides of herself AND Ryder. He is both a magical figure with an otherworldly poetic existence and an equally lovable and aggravating human being. I am changed forever by hearing Ryder's story, I feel like I know him. 

Jonathan Groff, Tony Award-nominated actor for HAMILTON, FROZEN 1 & 2


“Take this journey with Shelley, Ryder and the courageous Buck family. You will come away forever changed. As I read the last page, I found myself infused with a kind of spiritual lightness and peace. It was as if Ryder, himself, had come and whispered in my ear, “Life is beautiful. Live it large and let it sing.” 

Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Oscar-winning songwriter, FROZEN 1 & 2, COCO


"This amazing memoir comes straight from a mother’s heart. Ryder Buck’s light has hardly dimmed. In fact, it shines brighter than ever. You could warm your hands on it."

Chris Erskine, Author/Columnist


 “As a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up and be released from my parents’ grip. As a parent, I cannot fathom letting go of my teenager. This book is undeniably relatable. It is a story about transition.”

Jamie S. Roberts, Casting, Walt Disney Feature Animation


"… a mother’s wrenchingly honest and beautiful love letter, not only to the son whose spirit sings to her from the other side, but also to the two sons and her soul mate who remain with her here.”

Brenda Chapman, Writer/Director


Shelley pays beautiful tribute to her boy; in so many ways it’s the story of Apollo, the god of music, truth and healing, as seen through his mother Leto’s loving eyes.

Kevin Lima, Writer/Director/Producer


“A profound and emotional book that is both life-affirming and uplifting, it details the inspiring journey of Ryder Buck, a creative, charismatic, and courageous young man, who lived life to its fullest and did so on his own terms in the face of overwhelming odds. Shelley Buck gives a brutally honest account of her sometimes contentious (but always nurturing and loving) relationship with her proud and independent son who refused to ever give up. Ryder’s music and spirit live on in this extraordinary book, and the reader will come away better for the experience, feeling as if they’d gotten to know a unique and giving individual whose shining light left a profound impact on the world.”

Howard Green, Walt Disney Publicist/ Historian

“I’ll never forget the moment I encountered the light that emanated from Ryder Buck. He was strumming a guitar on top of a popular hiking trail. He asked if he could play a song for us, and we experienced a lovely moment of live music performed by a stranger.

This book is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul. It is a story of courage, hope, determination and tenacity, of finding light in the mountains and valleys of grief and reserves of strength within.

Anyone reading this book will feel the warmth that defined Ryder, and will be touched by the grace that he and his mother discovered in themselves and each other… an unforgettable read!”

Cater Lee, Broadcast Journalist


‘“The light I’m about to share with you was earthbound, and now it’s not’ - Wow! Infectious and heartfelt, LEAVE YOUR LIGHT ON celebrates the extraordinary life of Ryder Buck and his passion for life, family and music. This unimaginable journey of a mother capturing her son’s soul and spirit into a limited amount of words is remarkable. A true testament to the immense power of a mother’s infinite love and devotion.” 

Pete Donaldson, Literary Manager


To be close to the Buck family is to be forever warmed by their light.

So, when the clouds block out the sun and the waves toss and the tide rips and you finally crawl your way to shore, come and sing a song of love, joy, peace, and hope with us around Ryder’s fire...everyone is welcome.

Dr. Warren Brown


"A mother's celebration of a son she lost too soon and a deeply felt story of motherhood; a moving account of a son's search for health while trying to find who he was; and finally a quilt of memories of love between parents and children that lives beyond mortal lives."

John Musker, Director, Disney Feature Animation, THE LITTLE MERMAID, ALADDIN, HERCULES

I loved reading this book. One sitting. It is unflinchingly blunt with honest reflection, cold candor, hot-blooded battles and the never-remedied regrets that haunt to the grave. Shelley's simple profound words of wisdom are dropped so gently, as if we all know these things to be true- motherly soft words full of hard truths.

Through Ryder's generosity of spirit, he has shown how even the darkest streets can be lit with love. This book is about that illumination, his bright and warm loving light, as if it was created expressly for us to spread love and joy alone. And most important for Ryder was making uplifting music. Ryder felt strongly, no matter what else you do with each day, be brave enough to be you. You have nothing to lose if you have won your true self and are following your own personal bliss. Life is short. But for him, you will find, just as long as it was meant to be, which was long enough to make a huge difference in many lives. Then and now.

Mike Gabriel, Director, Walt Disney Feature Animation, RESCUERS DOWN UNDER, POCAHANTAS

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