Ryan Kishbaugh was a great kid. He loved sports, excelled in school and had plenty of friends and family who loved him. He was an inspiration, a fighter, an example of the goodness that dwells in the human heart. He died at the age of 18. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma took his life. His memory lives on through his book, Run Because You Can: My Personal Race with Cancer. His family has sponsored events throughout the community in his honor as well.
In fact, on Dec. 19, downtown will be filled with runners (competitive and those who run just because they can), there will be parents pushing strollers, pets on leashes and kids dashing about as community residents come out to enjoy Ryan’s Reindeer Run, which, over the years has evolved into a much anticipated holiday event.
“When we started the run the whole idea was to do something fun where people would come and remember Ryan,” said Roberta Humphries, Ryan’s mom and the event coordinator.
“In doing it, whatever money was raised was ancillary to the event.”
Over the years the proceeds have gone to benefit The Ryan P. Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation and Friends of the Cancer Center at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center as well as the Duke pediatric blood and bone marrow transplantation unit. This year Humphries is delighted about the prospect of using a portion of the funds to sponsor the Make a Wish Foundation of Eastern Carolina.
“One of the things that Ryan really looked forward to was the fact that the Make a Wish people offered him a Make a Wish trip,” said Humphries.And that was one of the things during bone marrow treatment that he really focused on and looked forward to. Unfortunately, he never got to take the trip, but I am excited that this year we are going to be able to do that for a person in our community…hopefully we can raise enough to pay for a whole trip, but if not, at least we can help.”
While Ryan’s Reindeer Run offers all of the standard race day experiences, Humphries goes all out in making this a festive event that is family friendly and will bring cheerful smiles to both the participants and the onlookers. Not only do registered participants receive a T-shirt, but they also get a set of reindeer antlers and are encouraged to come out in holiday-themed costumes and compete not only for their best time but for the best costume as well. Awards are also given for the best decorated stroller.
“Anybody under 13 gets a medal,” said Humphries. “And a certificate. Our medals are different, too. They are Christmas ornaments…all of our trophies are either reindeer- or holiday-based trophies so it keeps that whole holiday reindeer theme going.”
Santa Clause is scheduled to make an appearance, too.
“I think it is a fun time. We have the competitive runners who are out to win, but it is also just a great family event,” said Humphries.
“I think a lot of people look forward to just getting into the holiday spirit.Because of it being a big event and a run there are a lot who come who never even knew Ryan. I like the whole idea of his spirit being there and I think it is something that he just would have had a blast with. I think he really would have had fun with this.”
Pre-register at www.runbecauseyoucan.com or active.com. It costs $25 per runner or $75 for a family of four. Same day registration begins at 7:30 a.m. the race starts at 8:30 a.m. from the Medical Arts Building. Call 323-0520 for more information.