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Ryan P. Kishbaugh was the kind of person that gave his all ineverything he did. He was warm, kindhearted and put the needsof others before himself. Even when diagnosed with Hodgkin’sLymphoma at the age of 17, he was determined to squeeze the mostout of whatever amount of time he had left, and make the most out ofevery opportunity.

“Never step away from life” was his motto. And with that in mind,he made his remaining fivemonths count. He continuedto help and think of othersuntil the end.

Perhaps it is in that samespirit that every year morethan 400 people participatein Ryan’s Reindeer Run, a 5Krace held in his memory.

Kishbaugh’s mother,Roberta Humphries, firstgot the idea for the raceafter seeing a ReindeerRun in Charleston, S.C.,and inspiration struck. Theinitial year’s run saw about200 participants, but now,five years later, the numberhas grown to more than 400. All of theserunners, both people who knew Kishbaughand those who have just heard of his braveryand kindness, get together every year to raisemoney for those fighting Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is cancer originating from white blood cells, calledlymphocytes, and is described by the spread of disease from one lymph nodegroup to another. The disease occurrence shows in two peaks, in early adulthood,around ages 15-35, and again in those over 55 years of age, and survival rates varydepending on age and the treatments administered.

Kishbaugh was always exceptionally smart and compassionate. Accordingto those who knew him best, he always worried about the welfare of his friends,neighbors and anyone else with whom he came in contact with. Even while inchemotherapy, he was concerned with the smaller children who were being treatedand how they were fairing. He was an amazing athlete and participated in soccer andbasketball on the varsity level. He was also a dedicated volunteer and won the 2001Governor’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service.

Donning red reindeer ears and jogging gear, participants will line up at theMedical Arts Building on Robeson Street Dec. 18 at 8:30 a.m., pumped up andready to race for a good cause. Humphries is so grateful and astounded at the turnout every year.

“I’m truly amazed at the amount of people who take time out of their busy lives,especially during this time of year to participate. I never expected such a response,and I am very appreciative,” she said.

Among the runners will be many of Ryan’s childhood and high school friends,including Wyatt Jenkins, who has been “An instrumental part of putting together thisyear’s run, pitching in wherever he is needed,” said Humphries.

“This run is not only a good opportunity to raise money for a good cause, butalso for these kids who grew up together, and who knew and loved Ryan, to gettogether and stay in touch,” she continued.

The run has six different age divisions ranging from 13 to 60 plus, and prizes arepresented to the top overall male and female runners, the top three family fi nishersand best costumed runners. There will also be a trophy presented to the groupwith the most number of participants. All participants under the age of 13 receive afiisher’s award, as well as the top three pet finishers and their owners. The fee forindividual runners or walkers is $25, with family entries being $75, which includesfour T-shirts. Online registration ends on Dec. 16 at 9 p.m. there is also same dayregistration and pick up at the race site on Saturday beginning at 7 a.m.

The proceeds from the run go to the Ryan P. Kishbaugh Memorial Fund, Makea Wish Foundation of Eastern North Carolina and the Friends of the Cancer Centerat Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.

For those not familiar with Ryan’s story, you can read more about it in the bookhe wrote while he was in the hospital, Run Because You Can. It seems somehowfi tting that his family chose a run to honor his memory, and in his own words, heencourages the community to participate:

“So do me a favor, whatever you’re doing today, just go out andrun. Somewhere, anywhere, just run because you can.”-Ryan P. Kishbaugh

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