uac121714001.gif Ryan’s Reindeer Run started as a way to celebrate the life of Ryan Kishbaugh, an incredible young man who lost his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2003. He was 18 years old. Ryan was an excellent student, an inspiring athlete and an exemplary volunteer. He celebrated life every day and that is something Roberta Humphries, Ryan’s mom and the organizer of Ryan’s Reindeer Run, hopes people will do more often. This year the run falls on Dec. 20.

Ryan loved to run. In fact, he wrote a book called Run Because You Can – My Personal Race with Cancer. The book shares his thoughts and experiences as he battled cancer. So Ryan’s Reindeer Run is indeed the perfect way to celebrate his life.

“I think Ryan would have had a lot of fun with this event. He loved the holidays and Christmas. I think he would have been amazed at the number of people that come out for it,” said Humphries. “Last year, more than 1,000 people registered to run.”

Come ready to run, to laugh and to have fun. From reindeer antlers to ugly sweaters Humphries encourages runners to come in costume and enjoy the festive atmosphere while of the race. Some of the costume award categories include best male costume, best female costume, best couple and best group. There is even an award for best decorated stroller.

“We have a few more awards this year,” said Humphries. “One of them is for best holiday sweater.”

Through the years, Humphries has seen some interesting costumes. “One of my favorite memories of the race was watching Emmy Barbaro. She ran the race wearing a box. She was dressed as a Christmas gift and her enthusiasm was inspiring. She was so excited,” said Humphries. “One year the Keener family — they win almost every year for their creative costumes — dressed as packages and had tags on their heads that said ‘To: Ryan.’ They have done some really fun costumes. One year they came as a nativity scene.”

Santa Claus will be at the run. If people want to get photos with Santa they can. This is truly a family-friendly event. Families can even register to compete in the family category. 12-17-14-runbecauseyoucan.gif

Proceeds from the run benefit the The Ryan P. Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation, which in turn supports many organizations in the community. In the past the foundation has supported Friends of the Cancer Center at Cape Fear Valley, Make a Wish foundation, The Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Family Support Program, The Care Clinic, Better Health, the Child Advocacy Center, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Voices of the Heart and I always do a writing prize for a senior at Fayetteville Academy.

“We’ve given away more than $120,000 since we started this nine years ago,” said Humphries.

Prizes for the race are awarded to the top overall male and female finisher and the top three male and female finishers in the following age divisions: under 13, 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60 and over. All participants under the age of 13 receive a finisher’s award. Prizes are also awarded to the top three pet finishers and their owners, top three family finishers, best costumed runners and top three strollers, runners and best decorated strollers.

A team trophy is presented to the school, club or organization with the largest number of participants. When registering, include the name of the organization on the entry form. There must be a minimum of 10 entries under a team name to be considered a group. The award is not based on time but on the number of registrants. Humphries noted that this is a popular category because many local schools register teams and friends that are home for the holidays often register and run as teams, too.

Registration fees are: Individual Runner/Walker: $25.00, after December 1: $30.00; Under 13 Runner/Walker: $15.00, after December 1: $20.00 ; Children in strollers no charge.

Family Entry: $75.00, after December 1: $90. The family entry includes four T-shirts. Two additional family members may register for $20 each. Family registrants are not eligible for individual prizes but will be eligible for the family prize. Please complete a separate registration form for each participating family member. (Family entry must be a m12-17-14-cover-story.gifinimum of three runners and maximum of six runners who are of the same family, strollers not included in the aggregate time.)

Dogs on leashes are allowed but must be controlled at all times and owners are responsible for cleaning up after their dogs. Runners with dogs may be asked to leave if the dogs are causing a disturbance. Walkers, noncompetitive runners with dogs and strollers are requested to start in the back of the group.

“The T-shirts are red and the race bags are green this year, so it is very festive,” said Humphries. “I recommend that people register early because the race is limited to 1,000 runners. That is the number of people that can run and still have this be a fun and safe race.”

While there is a big focus on having fun and enjoying the day Humphries noted that competitive runners will enjoy the challenging course. “The course is difficult by design,” said Humphries. “I want people to have fun but life is challenging at times, too. That is what the challenging course represents.”

Register at active.com or to find out more about the race, and to learn more about Ryan, visit http://www.ryansreindeerrun.com.

Photos: Ryan’s Reindeer Run celebrates the life of Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh. 

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