Ryan’s Reindeer Run is more than a foot race. It is a celebration. It is a celebration of the life of Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh and his amazing story but it is also a celebration of love, life and passion. Don’t miss the chance to be a part of this celebration on Saturday, Dec. 21. Ryan’s Reindeer Run is a 5K walk/run that is not only a great time, but it is a chance to make a difference. Named after Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh, Ryan’s Reindeer Run raises funds for the Ryan P. Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation and other charities that provide services to kids in need and cancer patients. 


Ryan was an athlete, an amazing community advocate, volunteer and a scholar. He had been accepted to Princeton and was ready to embark on an amazing future when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Ryan died from complications of a bone marrow transplant in 2003. He fought valiantly for 15 months before he died. His mother, Roberta Humphries, chooses to celebrate his life each year. Since Ryan was a stellar athlete and loved to run (he even wrote a book called Run Because You Can) having a race seemed like a great way to honor her son.


“I wanted to do something fun to remember Ryan,” said Humphries. “I was visiting Charleston in 2005 and they had a Reindeer Run going on. It just seemed like a great way to remember him and to do something fun at the same time.”


Hardcore runners are sure to enjoy the course. It is hilly and a bit of a challenge — but that is by design. 


“The run is a lot of fun, but the fact that the course is fairly difficult is significant,” said Humphries. “It is to remind people that life can be challenging sometimes.”


People who are interested in just having a great time while knowing they are giving back to the community will love this run, too. Sure, there are the standard awards for winners like the male and female runners who get the best times in their age groups, but there are also some awards that are all about fun. There are prizes for the top three pet finishers and their owners; the top three family finishers; the best-costumed runners; the top three strollers and runners; and the best decorated strollers. 


“We have a category where families can register together and their times are combined for an aggregate time and then the family with the lowest aggregate time is recognized,” said Humphries. “We also have a best-sweatered runner category.”


In planning this event Humphries is always on the look out for ways to embrace the joy and love of life that she remembers most about Ryan and turn it into part of the event. The trophies are reindeer. Every year she looks for reindeer that she can use as trophies for the event. The medals for the winners are shaped like Christmas ornaments. 


“I want people to be able to hang these on their tree if they wanted to so they can remember the fun they had at the reindeer run instead of just putting it in a drawer,” said Humphries.


There is such a feeling of connectedness that surrounds this event that Humphries considers it a chance to celebrate each and every year. 


“Many of the people who run in this race never even knew Ryan, but to see them running and laughing and having fun with their friends and family is a lot of fun for me,” said Humphries. “There are families who have been doing this since the first race eight years ago. One family chooses a theme every year and comes in the most wonderful costumes. They have come as Whos from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, they’ve come as characters from A Charlie Brown Christmas, they have come as Christmas packages. It is just so much fun to see what they will come up with next. Then there are Ryan’s friends who are runners. Many of them have married and have families of their own and they are bringing their children to run in the race.”


The funds that are raised at the event go right back into the community through the Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation. Since the race was established in 2006, the foundation has donated more than $100,000 to different organizations in the community. Each year The Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation’s Friends of the Cancer Center, Better Health, the Care Clinic and the Child Advocacy Center receive funds from this event. Every spring the Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation also awards a $1,000 writing prize to a student at the Fayetteville Academy where Ryan was a student.


Register early to make sure that there is a shirt reserved in your size on race day. The race starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Medical Arts Building on Hay Street. For more information or to register, visit www.active.com or www.ryansreindeerrun.com. 

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