WNEP's Ryan's Run team goes distance

WNEP's Ryan's Run team goes distance

Reposted from Times Leader.

When you look at WNEP’s Ryan’s Run, it’s jaw-droppingly impressive to note the event, now in its 10th year, so far has raised more than $3.2 million for the Allied Services Integrated Health System.

But, just as it would be difficult to calculate how many thousands of steps a group of, let’s say 50, distance runners take as they train for a marathon, or how many beads of sweat accompany those steps, it’s similarly daunting to try to count how many people Ryan’s Run helps.

Or the many ways you might pitch in to support it.

The big event will take place Nov. 3, when at least 50 Ryan’s Run participants will take part in the New York City Marathon, running 26.2 miles through the city’s five boroughs.

Each runner is committed to raising $5,000, and if you read their biographies at the WNEP Ryan’s Run website, you might feel inspired to send a contribution to one or more of them.

Perhaps WNEP personality Ryan Leckey, namesake of Ryan’s Run, who describes himself as “super passionate about this.”

Or perhaps Luanne Fisk, of Dunmore, a licensed practical nurse running in honor of an Allied Services patient named Nicolette Peoples who was injured in a car accident as a teen.

“When my feet touched the grass I started to cry,” Peoples is quoted in an interview you can find on the Ryan’s Run Facebook page, which explains Allied Services used funds from Ryan’s Run to purchase the cutting-edge Indego Exoskeleton that has helped Peoples stand and walk on grass for the first time in almost 14 years.

Maybe you’d want to donate on behalf of Gary Puhalla, of Olyphant, running in honor of a roofer injured in a fall. Or Paul Wylam, of Clarks Summit, running in honor of a man who has multiple sclerosis. Or Stephanie Collins, of Dalton, a therapist running on behalf of a woman who lost the ability to move her legs after she developed an abscess on her spinal cord.

The web site shares many such stories as individual runners appeal to potential sponsors for donations.

Another way you might help is to attend any of the smaller fund-raisers connected to Ryan’s Run.

Sunday Funday, for one, is set for 1 to 4 p.m. today Sept. 29 at Rodano’s Restaurant on Public Square, Wilkes-Barre, with food, raffles and music. Tickets are $25 at the door.

Other fund-raisers involve an evening of roller skating 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Skateaway on Blackman Street in Wilkes-Barre, a “charity ride” of spin classes between 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 6 at The Fitness Place in Mountain Top, the chance to feast on pizza from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 5 at Pizza Bella in Mountain Top, and the chance to sample dessert at the Whipped Sweet Shoppe on South Poplar Street in Hazleton, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 27.

Whenever you look at the Ryan’s Run Facebook page, it seems more events are listed.

Guaranteed to stand out among the fund-raisers is the Ryan’s Run 5K/All-Abilities Walk, set for 8 to 11 a.m. Oct. 12 at Valor Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium, 816 Providence Road, Scranton.

“It’s literally the Super Bowl of our charity campaign,” Leckey said in a telephone interview.

“While the 5K is fun for people who love to walk or run, the All-Abilities Walk spotlights Allied’s amazing services,” Leckey said. “You can see someone doing one lap or two laps … You can see a kid with spina bifida using stabilizing sticks … You might see people go from being in a wheelchair one year to maybe just using a walker the next year.”

“Not everybody wants to run a marathon,” agreed Allied Services vice president Jim Brogna. “But when you see everyone from young children to seniors citizens in the All Abilities Walk — we have kids with cerebral palsy who challenge themselves to do a loop around the track, or a person with spina bifida might challenge themselves to do 100 yards — it’s just so inspiring and uplifting.”

“We don’t raise a ton of money that day but we touch of ton of lives,” Brogna said. “Just to see people meeting their goals, to see a child who had CP since birth going the whole 5K distance, that means more than me running 26.2 miles.”

“I get emotional thinking about it,” said Brogna, who will be running the New York City Marathon with Leckey and the other runners on the Ryan’s Run team.

Following shoulder surgery, Leckey underwent physical therapy at Allied Services himself earlier this year, but he had been a fan long before that.

“Truthfully, before my shoulder issue, I was already in love with and believed in what Allied was all about,” he said. “They are miracle workers there. They take great technology and mix it with some of the best technicians.”

“Allied has been around for decades and it seems like every person you meet knows someone who was helped there,” said Leckey, a Johnstown native who wasn’t a runner as a kid but “discovered fitness after I moved here” 14 years ago.

Ryan’s Run, which has grown tenfold since the first five people ran in the 2010 New York City Marathon, is the brainchild of local runner Steve Davidowitz, who came up with the plan for benefiting Allied Services and has been part of the Ryan’s Run team every year since.

“This would never have come to fruition if not for Steve Davidowitz’s idea and Ryan Leckey’s passion,” Brogna said.

“We raised $125,000 that first year and we certainly impressed the (race organizers) New York Road Runners,” Brogna said. “Then we went from Community Charity to Bronze Charity with 25 runners and then up to Silver Charity with 50 runners. Now we’re on a par with UNICEF and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.”

“We’re one of only 12 (Silver Charity partners) in the country and we’ve raised over $3.2 million,” Brogna said. “There are people who seek us out and ask how we did it. It was using social media platforms and crowd funding and having a media partnership.”