coverLegacies. World leaders and captains of industry frame decisions in terms of how their actions will affect their legacy. Most high school students base their decisions on how their actions will affect their weekend and after school plans. When Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh was in high school he probably wasn’t thinking about his legacy. It’s been 13 years since Ryan died, but his legacy of hope and determination continues to change lives. His family could have chosen to mourn him privately. Instead, they choose to celebrate him publicly. On Dec. 2016 Ryan’s Reindeer Run 2016 starts at the Medical Arts Complex Field in Downtown Fayetteville. It is a celebration of life and hope and all the things Ryan stood for and dreamed of in his short life. 

Like many local residents, it was the Army that brought Ryan’s family to Fayetteville. They stayed and made it home. Ryan prospered here. He played soccer and basketball. He believed in helping his fellow man and even won the 2001 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. He graduated second in his high school class and was accepted to Princeton University. Then, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Ryan died 15 months later at the age of 18 from complications of a bone marrow transplant. But even during  the fight for his life, Ryan gave everything he had — and wrote a book about it, too. 

Ryan’s book, called Run Because You Can — My Personal Race with Cancer, talks about the challenges he faced dealing with his illness during his senior year of high school. It covers how he faced challenges and tried to keep his life as normal as possible while dealing with his illness. It is an inspiring peek into the heart and mind of a fighter.

Ryan’s Reindeer Run is a 5k walk/run that benefits the Ryan P. Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation as well as other charities that help cancer patients and children in need. Since its inception in 2003, the foundation has given more than $150,000 to local non-profits in Ryan’s memory. 

This is a popular event with between 800-1,000 runners each year, so consider registering early. It is festive and family-friendly – bring your friends.  Bring the kids, strollers, too. Bring the dog (on a leash). One of the things that makes this run so much fun is the costume contest. There are prizes for the top three pet finishers and their owners, top three family finishers, best costumed runners and the top three strollers and runners and best decorated strollers.

“We are excited for another successful year of the run. Based on the early registration, it looks like we’ll have a great crowd again,” said Roberta Humphries, Ryan’s mom and race coordinator. “We are eager to see the creative group costumes again.”

She added that “another thing I’m excited about having to do with Ryan is that Victoria Cameron, the former Headmaster at Fayetteville Academy, has contacted various university libraries and over 40 university and college libraries have accepted Ryan’s book including Princeton Ryan would have gone to school.”

There are prizes for the top three overall male and female finishers and the top three male and female finishers in the following age divisions: under 13, 13-16, 17-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69 and 70 and over. All under 13 participants receive a finisher’s award. Teams are encouraged to compete as well. There is a team trophy presented to the school, club or organization with the largest number of participants. Not based on time but on the number of registrants. Include the name of the organization on the entry form. Minimum of 10 entries to be considered a group. 

It’s become a tradition for Humphries  to search out reindeer-themed trophies to hand out to the winners each year. 

The route has a few hills and is challenging by design. Even though this is a fun event, Humphries wants people to remember that life is challenging, too. The course leaves the Medical Arts Building parking lot and goes up Haymount Hill and through the Haymount neighborhoods. 

Race registration costs between $20 for individuals under the age of 13 running the 5k and $130 for a family of six members running the 5k. Package pickup is Friday, Dec. 16 from 5-8 p.m. at Breezewood Healthcare, which is located at 200 Forsythe Street, Packets are also available Saturday, Dec. 17 at the race site from 7 – 8:30 a.m. The race starts at 8:30 a.m. The awards ceremony is at 9:30 a.m. 

Register at active.com. Find out more about Ryan at http://www.ryansreindeerrun.com.

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