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Weather fanatic Ryland Mishura practices delivering forecasts all the time using the storm radar app on his mother's phone. Last week, the 11-year-old New Jersey fifth grader delivered the real thing, going live on The Weather Channel.
The network’s guest meteorologist took command of the weather map like a pro, forecasting showers, some strong storms “and possibly a tornado,” all without rehearsal or a script in sight.
The experience was “like a dream come true,” said Ryland, who has a rare life-threatening metabolic condition. His Weather Channel tour came courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Ryland’s mother, Jennifer Mishura, said her son spent five minutes at the computer getting briefed on the weather maps before going on air.
"He wasn't given any instructions on what to do at all. It was basically, 'Here's the information. Now go with it,'" she said.
Mishura said Ryland has been captivated by the weather since he was 7 years old. His fascination intensified after she downloaded a weather app on her cell phone.
“That turned him into tracking the storms with the radar,” she said.
For the past couple of years, Ryland would watch the radar on his mom’s app and pretend to give a report.
“He’ll talk to himself, like he’s reporting the weather from my phone,” she said. “That’s what he wants to do, so I figured, I’ll let him go with it.”
Make-A-Wish flew Ryland, his younger sister, and their parents to Atlanta for the April 12 standup at The Weather Channel studios.
He did such a good job that meteorologist Alex Wallace joked on air that "it seems like you're going to take my job."
As it turns out, Ryland does hope to eventually work at The Weather Channel. He even arrived for his tour last week with a letter and resume he hand-delivered to his hero, meteorologist, Jim Cantore.
"He had no fear. He walked straight up to Jim. It was crazy," Mishura said. "You would think when you’re going to meet your idol you would be very nervous. He wasn't nervous at all."
A newborn screening determined that Ryland was born with isovaleric acidemia, a condition that leaves the body unable to properly break down certain proteins.
The condition can be controlled through restrictive diet and medical formulas. If left untreated, however, the condition can cause brain damage or death.
Ryland knows he's different than his peers, his mother said.
"He knows his body’s different and it doesn’t work like other kids. He understands all that," she said.
But Mishura and her husband make sure their son knows just enough about his condition to understand the reason for his treatments.
"I keep everything positive, because I think your thoughts create your world and I just don’t ever want his thoughts to go into a bad place," she said.
His condition certainly hasn't stopped Ryland from pursuing his passion, or creating admirers along the way.
"We could see his confidence build as he flawlessly stepped us through the forecast on national television," said Make-A-Wish America spokesman Josh deBerge. "We’re a fan."
So is Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Bettes.
"Ryland is an amazing kid that eats, sleeps and breathes weather," he said. "He's only 11, but I think he's well on his way to a career in meteorology."