For Roberta Humphries, who is sponsoring the third annual Ryan’s Reindeer 5K Run — a race that she started in memory of her 18-year-old son, Ryan, who died of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — her heart has crossed the finish line a thousand times.
“Ryan was very athletic,” said Roberta, “so I thought that this race would be a good way to remember him.”
But let Ryan tell you in his own words. Three days before Ryan passed away at Duke University Hospital, he wrote these words from his hospital bed: “The cold sores are coming, I get feverish every couple of hours, and other than that my body is in sort of this slow down where I don’t feel like doing much of anything active. So do a favor for me, and whatever you’re doing today, just go out and RUN, somewhere, anywhere, just RUN because you can. Those are the things I miss, the things I have been raped of. So protect them and nurture them while you are able. Don’t wait until you are 80 and the grains of sand are almost gone to begin to live. Make sure you use life as a means to live, not just as a means of postponing death. Don’t be afraid to live because sooner or later, the one chance you have is gone.”
The race, which will be held Dec. 20 at 8:30 a.m. in downtown Fayetteville, honors Ryan by lining up legions of runners — more than 350 competed last year — and raising money to fight the disease that left him unable to run: Last year, more than $14,000 was raised to help fund the Ryan P. Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation, Duke Pediatric Bone Marrow Unit, and Friends of the Cancer Center at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.
“I can’t say the race has given me closure,” said Humphries, “but it does give me some satisfaction knowing that this is something that Ryan would have definitely wanted.”
The run will start and finish at the Medical Arts Building Parking Lot Entrance on Hay Street; the Medical Arts Building is located at 101 Robeson St. Prizes will be awarded to the top overall male and female finisher and the top three male and female finishers in the following age divisions: 13-19, 20-29, 30-39,40-49, 50-59 and 60-plus. Prizes will also be presented to the top three family finishers and the best costumed runners. A trophy will be presented to the group with the most number of participants. All under 13 participants receive a finisher’s award. Prizes will be awarded to the top three pet finishers and their owners. Packet pick-up and registration will be 5-8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 19 at the Clarion-Prince Charles Hotel, Azalea Room No. 1.
“The run continues to grow every year,” said Humphries, who started the race with the aid of her husband, Paul Humphries. “The runners come from across the state and all of them have told me that it’s a great race.”
Registration fee is $25 for individuals, which includes a T-shirt and reindeer ears, and $75 per family, which includes four T-shirts and four reindeer ears. Registration will be available on the day of race beginning at 7:30 a.m. On-line registration is available at www.active.com or www.runbecauseyoucan.com.
Ryan’s book, Run Because You Can, My Personal Race with Cancer, has been published and is available for order at the Web sit www.runbecauseyoucan.com.
“I know this is exactly what Ryan would have wanted,” said Humphries. “It’s a great cause in memory of a great kid.”