Exeter resident Mary Ann Ratajczak to run in TCS New York City Marathon this fall

Exeter resident Mary Ann Ratajczak, left, will run in the TCS New York City Marathon as part of the WNEP=TV Ryan’s Run later this year. She will run in honor of fellow Exeter resident 13-year-old Mikey Ash, who has a rare condition called Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome. – 


Reposted from the Sunday Dispatch. By Jimmy Fisher –

EXETER — Mary Ann Ratajczak enjoys running for fun, but this fall she’ll run for a bigger cause.

The Exeter resident will participate in the TCS New York City Marathon, which will be held Nov. 4 and benefits children and adults at Allied Services living with disabilities.

“I ran a lot of different races and half marathons and thought it was time to step up my game a little bit,” Ratajczak said. “I ran an event in Scranton last year and I saw all these people that run the New York City Marathon and I was impressed with all these kids.”

It was there she met Ryan Lecky of WNEP-TV who connected her with Charlotte Harris and Jim Brogan, both of whom allowed Ratajczak to join the WNEP Ryan’s Run team that runs the NYC Marathon.

To be part of the team, she has to raise $5,000 which she is doing through the WNEP Ryan’s Run page on the Allied Services Foundation website.

“We have to raise $5,000 because it’s a charity,” Ratajczak said. The deadline to reach $5,000 is October and whatever I don’t get through donations, I pay out of pocket.”

Currently, she’s raised over $4,681.

Not only is Ratajczak running for everyone at Allied Services, she’s also running for her new friend Mikey Ash, a 13-year-old boy from Exeter who lives with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome (RTS).

RTS is a genetic disease that involves broad thumbs and toes, short stature, distinctive facial features and varying degrees of intellectual disability.

“I met Mikey through a nurse here at Geisinger (where I work),” Ratajczak said. “I actually just met him and I have a route that I run on Sundays, and when I finish my run is where Mikey lives. I ran past his house every Sunday and I didn’t even know it.”

Mikey’s mom Nicole said when her son met Ratajczak, he gave her a big hug and a high five as if they had known each other for years.

In an interview three years ago with the Sunday Dispatch, Nicole said she was told her son would never walk, talk or breathe on his own.

He does all of those and then some, despite some recent setbacks.

“He’s had some setbacks since a few years ago with surgeries and he has juvenile arthritis, and it makes it hard to get in and out of a car, going up and down stairs,” Nicole said. “He’s still defying what they said he wouldn’t do.”

Mikey gets stronger everyday through physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, feeding therapy and vision therapy with Allied Services.

Nicole said feeding therapy helps Mikey learn to hold eating utensils, feed himself, chew and introduces him to different food textures.

“We do this two to three times a week for 10 years,” she said.” But over time, even if we have a setback, we set new goals and he continues to reach them which makes him a champion. Ts what made Ratajczak say, ‘How can I dare complain when he does what he does with smile?’”

Before Ratajczak runs the NYC Marathon, she and Mikey have a goal they want to accomplish together.

“The (Allied Services) All Abilities Walk is being held in October, and Mikey and Mary Ann both want to walk a lap together,” said Nicole.

Charity Fitness Competition Clash For Cash 2018 Coming to Luzerne County


Clash For Cash 2018, a charity fitness competition that benefits WNEP’s Ryan’s Run, gets underway this Saturday, June 23.

The event plays out inside Mohegan Sun Pocono’s Convention Center near Wilkes-Barre from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey gave a look at what to expect this weekend on Wednesday during Newswatch 16 This Morning.

Clash For Cash is a fundraiser for this fall’s WNEP’s Ryan’s Run which helps kids and adults with disabilities served by Allied Services.

Although the event is sold out to competitors, admission to watch is free and is family friendly.

If you’d like to be more involved in the event this Saturday, volunteers are always welcome on both Friday, June 22 (the setup day) and the actual event (Saturday, June 23).

Whether you just want to lend a hand, need service hours or just enjoy helping others, extra help is always appreciated since the event relies heavily on volunteers.

If you’re free this Friday, June 22,  from noon to 3 p.m, come join the Clash for Cash crew at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Enter at the hotel entrance. Join a fun group as they convert the giant convention center into fitness central.

If you can attend, just show up at 12:15 p.m. on Friday.

If you have any questions, call Charlotte at (570) 814-4487  or Erin at (570) 335-4115.

To see the workouts competitors are tackling this Saturday, head here!

Rita Cavazos To Take On NYC Marathon As Part Of Ryan’s Run

REPOSTED from Mountaintop Eagle, By ANDREA O’NEILL|Correspondent
READY TO TAKE ON MARATHON Mountaintop resident Rita Cavazos will be taking on the NYC Marathon as part of the Ryan’s Run fundraising campaign

On November 4, Mountaintop resident Rita Cavazos will take on the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon as part of Ryan’s Run, a fund raising and awareness campaign by WNEP’s Ryan Leckey for Allied Services of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania and people in our region who are living with a disability.

According to their website, Allied Services is a “non-profit corporation and leading provider of healthcare and human services for northeastern Pennsylvanians with disabilities and chronic illness.” They serve children with special needs, people with developmental disabilities and any person who needs assistance with activities of daily living.

The Ryan’s Run campaign was born in 2010 with just 5 runners and since then has raised more than $2.6 million for Allied. The funds raised have enabled the non profit to invest in providing the best in rehab technology, staff, and services so local families to stay in their community rather than travelling to Philadelphia or New York for treatment.

“Most of the runners have a personal connection, whether they have a grandmother recovering from a stroke or they’re a parent of a child with a disability,” explained Leckey in a post from New York Road Runners.

This is true of 33-year-old Cavazos, who started running ten years ago as a way to cope with a difficult time in her life. She joined a gym at first just to take better care of herself and began walking a treadmill; gradually exploring the possibility of some light runs and a 5k that later led her to her first half marathon.

“I felt I needed a change in my life and set goals,” explained Rita. “It made me feel better about myself; more confident, more emotionally stable, and grew into more of an appreciation and exploration of what my body was capable of. It’s been my savior.”

Cavazos says that running for Ryan’s Run motivates her further to compete in her first NYC marathon. In order to run as part of team WNEP, Rita has to raise $5,000.00 for the organization and has chosen 6-year-old Jackson, a patient at Allied, as her ambassador. Jackson was introduced to her through a cousin and Cavazos was immediately taken by the little boy, who undergoes gait training and sensory integration training at Allied.

“He was so cute and bubbly,” recalled Cavazos. “He plays soccer and loves to color, and he knows more about the Solar System than I do!”

Charlotte Wright, Director of Special Events & External Affairs at Allied Services points out that Cavazo’s experience is not uncommon, noting that Ryan’s Run has become more than the funds it raises each year. Rather, Wright says, it is about “shining a light on, honoring the struggles and effort, and celebrating the accomplishments of the children and adults [Allied] serve[s]”

“Special people like Rita who are willing to give their time, energy and compassion are truly at the heart of this campaign,” said Wright. “The Ryan’s Run campaign has introduced us to some wonderful people, and for our runners and their ambassadors, the campaign is an opportunity to draw strength and inspiration from each other. Many of our runner/ ambassador pairings form permanent friendships.”

Consistent training for a marathon, or even a half marathon is paramount, and Cavazos has the challenge of working two jobs –one full time position and her own hair studio part time. Cavazos ran a half marathon in the fall, but has since let that fitness level drop because of her work schedule. While seventy hour workweeks don’t leave much time for a daily run, Cavazos says she is determined to fit her workouts in when she can and now that the weather has turned, she brings her workout clothes with her and fits in a run around the Crestwood Industrial Park during her lunch break. She’ll be running a lot in the evenings this summer along South Main, Alberdeen and Church Roads.

“I’m very dedicated and motivated, and I’ll fit them in when I can,” explained Cavazos. “I feel so invigorated after working out. I really want to do well.”

“My husband thinks I’m insane,” joked Cavazos. “but its my stress reliever. I love running.”

“I could have picked anybody” said Cavazos who, like most people, thought Allied was mostly adults who had life changing injuries. Through Jackson she learned that the organization also helps children with all different challenges like Autism, physical rehab, vocational services and behavioral health. “Its good for the community and it’s a fantastic opportunity to help Jackson and run for him”.

“Raising the money and running 26.2 miles through the boroughs of NYC are both huge goals but I’m pretty confident I can do it,” added Cavazos. “I’m nervous but I’m pretty sure I can do this and I’m hoping for a successful run.

So far, Ryan’s Run has raised a total of $35,796.32 out of their $500,000 November goal. To learn more and donate in honor of Rita, you can visit: -and be sure to look for Rita on the roads of Mountaintop.

WNEP’s Ryan’s Run 8 Update: Your Kindness in Action


It’s a big update on a big donation so many of you helped make happen!

On Tuesday, Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey showed how your kindness to WNEP’s Ryan’s Run last fall is changing lives today.

Ryan gave the updates from  Allied Services Heinz Rehab Hospital near Wilkes-Barre.

Last year, $554, 437 was raised during WNEP’s Ryan’s Run 8 campaign.

That money is now being put to use to continue the campaign’s mission, changing the lives of kids and adults with disabilities here at home.

Your generosity helped purchase life-changing technology at Allied’s campuses in Scranton and the Wilkes-Barre area.

Laura Piazza Smith, Vice President of Skilled Nursing at Allied said, “We are underway with a complete renovation of our memory care unit.”

It’s a project playing out at Allied Services Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center in Scranton.

Piazza Smith added, “We have the capacity to serve 61 residents.”

After lots of research, renovations are underway inside Allied’s memory care unit to improve the quality of life for people with dementia.

“We have a garden unit. We have a country unit. We have a beach unit and a city unit,” explained Piazza Smith.

The new landscape vibe will help encourage residents with dementia to stay active by moving around the facility. The color-coded themed hallways help patients easily identify their rooms.

“The last colors they can see are green and blue,” added Piazza Smith.

Other improvements include a snoezelen room which also helps patients with dementia. The new snoezelen sensory room and new mobile sensory equipment provides interactive activities to stimulate or calm patients when needed from adults to kids.

Watch the video clip below to see more of the money raised at work.

New life-changing technology is also now making an impact at Allied’s Heinz Rehab Hospital near Wilkes-Barre. Another device purchased through your generosity is the vision therapy system four. It’s basically like a high-tech workout for your eyes.

It can do everything from improving a patient’s depth perception to allow them to go up the stairs a lot safer or even improve things like reading or writing.

Occupation Therapist Lynn Matysczak says, “You can use this with many different people.”

This includes patients with cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, or head traumas. For Jason Martin of Ashley, the vision therapy system helps train his eyes to work better together. His mom, Renee is thrilled! She says, “He’s coming along great.”

One other goal at Heinz Rehab Hospital is to use some of the money from WNEP’S Ryan’s Run along with other Allied fundraisers to bring the pediatrics program into one wing of the hospital which will better for kids and their families when they come here.

Running in Memory of Kara Cook


LEMON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Runners lined up to raise money and remember a little girl in Wyoming County.

Kara Cook passed away from cancer last year. She was just 11 years old.

Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey has featured Kara over the years during Ryan’s Run while she underwent therapy at Allied Services.

Saturday’s run around Lake Carey near Tunkhannock was held in her honor.

“It’s awesome to see community support and everything to be a family whether you’re related or not. I just really feel blessed,” said Alicia Cook, Kara’s mother.

Kara Cook is a former Ryan’s Run ambassador.

Allied Services Named an Official Charity Partner of the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon Set for Sunday, November 4, 2018

Scranton, Pa, February 11, 2018 – Allied Services was named an Official Charity Partner of the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon, it was announced today by Jim Brogna, Vice President of Corporate Advancement and Communications for Allied Services. The race will take place on Sunday, November 4, 2018.

“Allied Services is thrilled to be named as an official charity partner of the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon,” said Jim Brogna, Vice President of Corporate Advancement and Communications. “The TCS New York City Marathon has provided a transformative experience not only for our dedicated runners raising funds for our cause, but also for our employees and the individuals and families we serve. We are proud to support them on their journey to the iconic finish line as they raise important funds to benefit children and adults with disabilities at Allied Services.”

More than 350 official charity partners will be part of the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon, providing thousands the opportunity to run in the world’s most popular marathon.

Allied Services is a non-profit health system of more than 3,000 employees and volunteers dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities, life-changing injuries and chronic illness. This diverse provider of rehabilitative, vocational, home care and residential services touched the lives of more than 5,000 people in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania each day. Since 2010, more than 200 athletes have completed the TCS New York City Marathon while helping to raise more than $2.6 million. The funds raised have enabled Allied Services to invest in cutting-edge rehab technology and programs to transform the lives of their patients.

“We are proud to welcome Allied Services to our official charity partner program for the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon,” said Christine Burke, vice president of runner products and services for New York Road Runners. “Participants in our official charity partner program are able to reach their goal of running 26.2 miles across New York City while directly impacting causes that are important to them through their fundraising efforts. We are inspired by their commitment and wish them the best of luck as they begin their amazing journey to the TCS New York City Marathon.”

For more information on the official charity partner program, please visit:

About the TCS New York City Marathon

The TCS New York City Marathon is the preeminent event of New York Road Runners (NYRR), the world’s premier community running organization.  Held annually on the first Sunday of November, it’s the largest marathon in the world featuring over 50,000 runners, from the world’s top professional athletes to runners of all ages and abilities, including approximately 9,000 charity runners. Participants from approximately 140 countries tour the diverse neighborhoods of the city’s five boroughs – Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. Race morning also features the Rising New York Road Runners Youth Invitational at the TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park, with participants finishing at the same finish line that will be crossed hours later by the marathon field. More than one million spectators and 10,000 volunteers line the city’s streets in support of the runners, while millions more watch the television broadcast. The race is a founding member of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, which features the world’s top marathons—Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York—and crowns the top professional male and female marathoners each year. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a leading global IT services, consulting, and business solutions organization, is the premier partner of NYRR and the title sponsor of the TCS New York City Marathon. The 48th running of the TCS New York City Marathon is set for November 4, 2018. To learn more, visit

5K Run and Walk planned to remember young girl’s life

A 5k run and walk is being planned to celebrate the life of a young girl from Tunkhannock. The Run to Remember will take place on Saturday, March 31st at Lake Carey Volunteer Fire Company in Tunkhannock. It will be hosted in memory of Kara Cook of Tunkhannock.

In September 2017, Kara passed away after a third courageous battle with cancer. She was just 11 years old. With the blessing of Kara’s family, proceeds from the run will benefit Allied Services pediatric programs. Kara was both a patient and an ambassador of Allied Services, sharing her success in rehab and inspiring other patients and families.  The event is being organized by Adam Edwards of Tunkhannock, a friend of the Cook family.

“Kara was a beautiful, caring and kind young lady, and the strongest kid I’ve known. Her smile lit up the room. She is so missed by her family and friends” notes Adam. “I hope this day will be an opportunity to focus on happy memories of Kara and by supporting the non-profit organization, give other children and families hope as they recover from an injury or mark new milestones in therapy.”

The event will begin at 8:00 a.m. with registration at Lake Carey Volunteer Fire Company on Siren Road. The race will start at 10:00 a.m. and will be followed by awards presentation at 11:00 a.m. The run and walk follows a mostly flat course around Lake Carey, and all ages are welcome to participate. The first 100 entrants will receive a commemorative race t-shirt. Registration is $20 with all proceeds benefitting children with disabilities served by Allied Services. Pre-registration is available here.

Individuals and businesses can support by participating in the run/walk or by sponsoring the event. For sponsorship opportunities contact Adam Edwards at

WNEP’s Ryan’s Run 8 Raises More Than $550,000


WNEP’s Ryan’s Run 8 raised $554,437 during this year’s charity campaign. The grand total check was unveiled Friday, November 10.

It’s a morning that’s been months in the making. Friday, November 10, marked the end of this year’s WNEP’s Ryan’s Run 8 with a big check presentation at Allied Services in Scranton.

WNEP’s Ryan’s Ryan benefits kids and adults with disabilities served by Allied Services. Allied is one of our area’s largest nonprofit organizations with a mission of “providing miracles in rehab.”

Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey had the final check presentation on Newswatch 16 This Morning raising $554,437

Our charity team is represented by people across northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

On Friday, Ryan Leckey gave us an inside look at our charity team in action at the world’s biggest marathon.

To date, WNEP’s Ryan’s Run has raised more than $2.6 million to help kids and adults with disabilities throughout northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

The campaign has also received multiple honors. Ryan’s Run was named by the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters as an “Outstanding Television Public Service Campaign.”

To learn more about the background behind WNEP’s Ryan’s Run, click here!

To inquire about our team for next year’s campaign, contact Charlotte Wright at Allied Services via email at

Check out this behind the scenes look at the marathon from the time the team woke up to the finish line.

Ryan’s Run Team Completes New York City Marathon


NEW YORK — It’s a night of celebration for WNEP-TV’s Ryan’s Run 8 campaign.

The charity team took to the streets on Sunday to run the TCS New York City Marathon.

The 26.2 race started in Staten Island and ended in New York City’s Central Park.

Around 50,000 people from around the world took part.

Among them were Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey, who spearheads our charity campaign, along with Julie Sidoni and Ryan’s morning photographer Corey Burns.

Ryan’s Run involves a team of 50 area runners.

Thanks to your help, the team’s been raising money to support kids and adults with disabilities served by Allied Services.

You can catch the final check presentation of this year’s campaign on Friday on Newswatch 16 This Morning.

The Meaning Behind the Marathon: WNEP’s Ryan’s Run Team Hits NYC This Weekend


While much of the world is watching the New York City Marathon this weekend, you may be interested to know that our area is playing a role.

Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey was in New York City’s Central Park on Friday.

He offered a behind the scenes look at the finish line and highlighted the impact WNEP’s Ryan’s Run Team will have on the World’s Biggest Marathon this Sunday, November 5.

Fifty area runners will represent our charity team in the TCS New York City Marathon, a 26.2-mile journey throughout the city’s five boroughs.

Plus, meet some runners from the Philippines who are supporting our cause.

WNEP’s Ryan’s Ryan benefits kids and adults with disabilities served by Allied Services.

To track our charity team in Sunday’s race head here!

To learn more about the background behind WNEP’s Ryan’s Run, click here!

Take a look behind the scenes of the TCS New York City Marathon with the Race Director and President Peter Ciaccia.

Latest News

Exeter resident Mary Ann Ratajczak to run in TCS New York City Marathon this fall

June 21, 2018

Exeter resident Mary Ann Ratajczak, left, will run in the TCS New York City Marathon as part of the WNEP=TV Ryan’s Run later this ...

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Top Fundraisers

Adam Edwards$9,950
Chris Steiner$6,570
Mary Ann Ratajczak$5,595
Lynne Duncan$4,805
Michael Dolobach$4,476

It may take 5-7 business days for gifts to be reflected in these totals.