When the coronavirus pandemic hit, most people spent their time at home baking bread, tie-dying, and learning the newest TikTok dance — but not Elliot Ryan and his grandfather, Dr. Fred Silverblatt.
Instead, the duo worked together to build a roller coaster in Silverblatt's Rhode Island backyard, officially fulfilling Ryan's dream and allowing Silverblatt to take the ride of his life as they made the most of the pandemic's ups and downs.
"I didn't want to let him down so I just said, 'Here goes!'" Silverblatt, 83, told PEOPLE (the TV Show!) after creating the roller coaster. "I have to say, it was faster and steeper than I anticipated."
Ryan, 20, said the idea came about when he and his younger brother's one-week visit to their grandfather's turned into a six-month stay. Knowing he's always wanted to build a roller coaster, Ryan figured there was no better time to start the project.
"We were just outside one day and we looked at the play structure and we're like, 'We should build a roller coaster off that,'" Ryan recalled to PEOPLE.
And so they did.
The final result turned out to be a long, wooden track that extended off the top of the playground slide and through Silverblatt's North Kingstown backyard, with a wooden cart for single riders to sit atop.
Though Silverblatt had a few hesitations, he said he was set on being the first one to ride the track — and made sure to follow through, with his big moment on captured on video.
His decision to do that certainly didn't come as a surprise to those who knew him, either.
The 83-year-old — who is a practicing doctor/physician in South County and a professor of medicine at Brown University, according to his LinkedIn page — said he's no stranger to an adrenaline rush, as he typically bikes 50 miles per day and is currently training for a triathlon.
Looking ahead, Silverblatt and Ryan told PEOPLE that they plan to extend the length of their current roller coaster, as well as build other rides next summer.
PEOPLE (the TV Show!) is a half-hour daily TV show inspired by the brand's unique combination of the most popular celebrity and inspirational human-interest stories, including entertainment news, exclusive interviews, feature stories, beauty and style, true crime and more. The show airs Monday-Friday in all 12 Meredith markets, including Atlanta, Phoenix, St. Louis, Portland, Nashville, Kansas City, Hartford-New Haven, Greenville-Spartanburg, Las Vegas, Mobile-Pensacola, Flint-Saginaw and Springfield-Holyoke. The show is hosted by Kay Adams and Lawrence K. Jackson with correspondents Jeremy Parsons and Sandra Vergara. You can also stream the show daily at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on People.com, PeopleTV app (OTT) and PEOPLE’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.
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