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uac112812001.jpg Many people don’t consider running a privilege. For them, it is nothing more than a part of a routine. But what they fail to realize is how amazing the simple act of running is. Just to stand takes more than 54 muscles, and running activates nearly every muscle in the body. Frankly, just waking up every day is incredible. Running is more than a simple evolutionary tool. It is an expression of life and health, something that many, unfortunately, cannot enjoy. Ryan Kishbaugh understood this, and he wanted others to understand it, too.

Ryan’s Reindeer Run, a family-friendly 5K scheduled for Dec. 15, is a fundraiser for the Ryan P. Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation and a celebration of Ryan’s life. The slogan for the event is “Run because you can.” It was taken from the title of the book published by Kishbaugh, the namesake of the event.

Many people look forward to the run every year as a way of kicking off the holiday season for their families, some even run together as a group. For many children this is the fi rst 5K in which they participate. It is fun because a lot of people dress in costumes, and Santa is there to hand out awards. Instead of regular medals, the awards are actually Christmas ornaments and the trophies are all reindeer themed. All participants under the age of 13 receive a finishers certificate and award as well.

“The event has grown tremendously since it began in 2006. The first year 274 runners registered and net proceeds were $7,240.65. Last year, in 2011, 880 runners registered and net proceeds were $18,062.04,” said Ryan’s mom, event coordinator Roberta Humphries. “The money goes to various organizations that support children and people dealing with the diagnosis of cancer. The following organizations have benefited from proceeds raised through the Foundation: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Better Health, The CARE Clinic, Fayetteville Academy Writing Center, Make a Wish Foundation, The Child Advocacy Center, The Marrow Foundation, Duke Pediatric Bone Marrow Unit and Friends of the Cancer Center at CFVHS. Overall more than $83,000 has been given to organizations since the foundation was begun in 2003.”

Kishbaugh was a high school senior when he was diagnosed with cancer. Before the diagnosis, he was extremely successful in many aspects of his life. He was a varsity athlete, and recognized as a dedicated and tremendous volunteer. It was after his diagnosis that he truly began to shine, however. Kishbaugh’s life was cut short, but he made more of a difference in his short life than many will make in several decades.

In the face of his greatest challenge, Kishbaugh maintained a positive outlook and wrote the book Run Because You Can: My Personal Race With Cancer, which details his struggle with the disease. Unfortunately, Kishbaugh passed away at the age of 18 due to complications from a bone marrow transplant, but his words live on.

“If you, at any point in your life, have changed somebody’s life, if you have made a difference in their life, in the world, then your life has been a success. People so often forget that money can buy everything except happiness. How did you make a difference today? What have you done to help a stranger this week? The answers to these questions are what truly matter in life, whether we realize that now or not. Life is so often overlooked, taken for granted, expected. Carpe diem. Learn to live in the moment, for that is all we have in our grasp. Take it upon yourself to go out and change the world for the better, and do it today,” is an excerpt from Kishbaugh’s book. It was written to be a positive infl uence on other people’s lives; an inspiration and a comfort for those facing similar challenges. The book covers 15 months of Kishbaugh’s struggle and is a beacon of hope and positivity.

This book is not all that Kishbaugh left behind. After he passed away his mother began Ryan’s Reindeer Run in his honor, to celebrate his life and raise money to help others who are facing the same challenges he endured. All proceeds of this fundraiser go directly to the Ryan’s Foundation which is dedicated to providing services to children cancer patients.

“The most rewarding part is being able to raise funds in Ryan’s memory and allow him to continue making a difference in the world through this event done in his memory,” said Humphries. “I also love to see Ryan’s friends who come back to run, now some of them with their children. When hospitalized in June 2002 Ryan wrote: ‘I don’t want anything more from this life than to know that when I die I made it better for just one other person. Just one. …I just want to reach someone, if only one, let me reach one person. I have to make a difference. I have to make things better, not for me, but for those who really suffer.’”

The run begins and ends at the Medical Arts Pharmacy parking lot entrance, which is located at 101 Robeson St. Packet pick-up is the evening before the race, on Dec. 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Breezewood Healthcare, 200 Forsythe St. A waiver is required in order to run the race. The waiver and registration are also available online at www.runbecauseyoucan.com/ run.html. For individual participants there is $25 entry fee. The group and family entry fee is $75 and includes four T-shirts. There must be a minimum of three participants to qualify for family registry and a maximum of six. Groups should include the organization’s name on their entry form, and there must be a minimum of six participants to be considered a group. Registration forms must be received by Nov. 30, to guarantee a T-shirt and reindeer ears. T-shirts run out quickly.

Online registration ends on Dec. 13, at 9 p.m. PST. Packet pick-up and race day registration begin at 7 a.m. The 5K race begins at 8:30 a.m. and awards will be presented at 9:30 a.m

Officials ask participants to remember that runners under 13 are free if they are running with a participating adult, but this does not include a T-shirt or timing bid. Runners under 13 who wish to be timed and eligible for the under 13 top three male and female medals must be registered to compete. Pets on leashes are allowed, but must be controlled at all times, including waste clean up by the owner. Runners with pets may be asked to leave if the pets are causing a disturbance. Walkers, non-competitive runners with pets and strollers are requested to start in the back of the group.

People that attend should expect a fun but challenging run. “I would like the public to know that this is a fun event for the entire family but it is also a very challenging run for the competitive runners,” said Humphries. “Walkers are also welcome to participate.”

It is a great day to come out and “run because you can.” People who want to walk the course are also welcome to participate. Prizes are also available for the overall male and female fi nisher, first- through third-place fi nishers in various age groups, prizes for the best-costumed runners, best-costumed group, runners with strollers, runners with pets and the best-decorated strollers. This year there will be prizes for the runner with the best holiday sweater.

People can also support the foundation without running by volunteering at the event, donating prizes or making fi nancial contributions. To volunteer, contact Humphries at robertahumprhies@nc.rr.com Visit www.runbecauseyoucan.com or active.com to learn more about this event.

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