Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Running for Ryan 5k

What do you get when you mix together a restaurant manager, bartender, lawyer, web designer, and a dad?
Apparently a whole flipping non-profit organization and a 5k race. 

The Ryan Shuck Foundation and Running 4 Ryan 5k came together nicely,
but it wasn't without total dedication and determination from a great group of people.

I met Eddie Kabbage at the SoHo Tavern on the night of Ryan's wake.
He was working down the street and took time from his break to come over and speak with me. 
It was short. 
It was beyond sweet. 
It ended with me telling my parents that there was to be a 5k in Ryan's name. 

A whole 5k? By September? 
Do these people know what they're getting themselves into?
Are they really serious?
Did you say by September?

These were all questions that were immediately discussed. 
And fortunately for us, they were immediately answered. 
Like, days later.

A big fat, undeniable YES.

Members of Ryan's community.
Friends from the neighborhood.
Bartenders from his favorite watering holes.

We were all on board this crazy train. 
It meant too much to all of us to let a moment like it pass us by. 
We were all hurt by Ryan's loss, 
and it seriously stung to get planning so quickly,
but we knew how turning it into something positive would have longer, more positive effects than grief.

And now it's here. 

Countless hours have been spent fine-tuning what we believe will be a fun, honorable day for Ryan. 

Here are the main points:

If you live here in town, you can register HERE.
Trust me, you do not have to be a runner to participate in a 5k. 
In fact, I will be waddling a butterball of a baby whilst pushing the 45-lb sand bag that is my four-year-old, so you really have no excuse.
It's 3.1 miles. Which is essentially like walking both stories of the International Plaza twice.
(Seriously, I just Googled that.)
Run. Race. Walk. Skip. Shuffle. 
There's bound to be a lot of people willing to make the trot with you.

OK, so you're registered. Now what?
Get a team together. Family. Friends. Co-workers. The guy/gal you needed an excuse to talk to.
What harm can come from literally walking in the park for a good cause? 
Not to mention that there is a free buffet and Coors Light at MacDinton's afterwards.
Teams have no limit to the number of persons, and the goal is to raise as much money as you can.

OK, OK, you live in town, but 5ks aren't your thing.
I respect that. Running, let alone in September, isn't for everyone. 
But we need volunteers
Photographers. Hydration Station. Cheerleaders. Race Goodie Bag Stuffers. 
There is a lot of opportunity to pitch in.
That's how this all came together, after all. Teamwork.

You will not be town, but wish you could be here.
No sweat. Literally.
But, you can totally participate by way of sponsorship or donation.
Sponsorships are pretty pricey, but most definitely have their perks for your business.
Donations are so important, no matter the size. 
When I raised money for the Boston Marathon, I was equally as pumped to see $10 as I was $1,000.
In fundraising, every penny really does count.
Donations can be mailed in to the foundation - click here for that address.

The Dalai Lama says that if you think positively going into something,
that there's no way to finish it without finding some level of satisfaction and success.
And who could argue with this face?

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So think about how you can contribute.

Run. Walk. Stroll.
Skip Starbucks for a few days and throw down a Jackson.
Hand water out to thirsty runners on a hot September day in Florida.
Talk to your boss about sponsorship.
Lead a team that will walk away with a trophy on race day.
Pop out your fold-out chair in Al Lopez Park and cheer on the runners on race day.
Share details on Facebook or whatever media outlet you fancy.
Join us at MacDinton's to toast SoHo's incredibly missed Mayor.

The hardest step is the first, people.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Running for Ryan Returns

I promise this to be the last post that reflects sad emotions; however, some things just have to be said.

Writing this blog post has been a most dreaded, yet highly anticipated task for me. 
The past two months have filled my life with more confusion and feelings unknown, 
that I was actually looking forward to writing them down to help myself understand.

Ryan passed away unexpectedly on May 12th. Mother's Day.
What's strange is that the day itself seems so distant, so fuzzy, 
except the moment that evening I found out the news.
That's all extremely clear, and it's painful. 

Maybe it's due to movies and television, 
or perhaps because I am one to love drama,
but I've actually pictured how I would react to the news of a death.
And it was nothing like I'd pictured. 
It's actually not at all how I imagined.

In fact, I remember telling my husband that night how badly I wanted it all to be over. 
As if after the funeral it would all just disappear and I could carry on.

But that was not the case at all. 

Instead, I think about it every day. It's even inescapable in dreams. 
And if there is a moment in which I find myself carrying on, 
I find myself in a pool of guilt. 
(Which I realize is just as acceptable a feeling as it is ridiculous.)

There was one moment when I was driving home from a particularly hard day at work. 
Windows were down. Music was up. I was breathing sighs of relief.
And that alone had me questioning how I could possibly enjoy a moment like that.

Or the moment I was on a boat on Lake Michigan watching fireworks,
and couldn't help but feel completely saddened that I got to see something so spectacular.

I'm sure these feelings will come and go for months. Years. 
I'm sure every scooter that passes me on the street will make me stop and look again.
I'm sure I'll still get upset when someone complains about turning another year older 
when they should really be grateful. 
I'm sure every time my son asks when Uncle Ryan is coming back down from the clouds
it will completely break my heart. 

I'm absolutely sure that I will never forget who my brother was and what he meant to me.

I'm not positive what I believe as far as where Ryan is now. 
But I do believe that in some way or another, 
we are still connected. 
Whether he is perched on a cloud and looking down on us,
or reincarnated into some other body,
or perhaps some energy in the atmosphere,
I feel certain that he approves of me taking his passing as a lesson in my life.
A gift that teaches me and those around me to appreciate what we have here on earth.

To not complain. 
To take care of our bodies and minds.
To be kind and help others.
To take advantage of every single breath we are given.
See the world. Feel loved. Experience life fully. 

To not "live every day like it's your last,"
but rather, just live every day.

Ryan's passing will always be painful and confusing to me. 
Really, I was always confused as to why he had to struggle. 
I remember telling my grandma when I was young that I wanted to switch lives with Ryan. 
And her reply didn't come back to me until the day of Ryan's funeral.

She said,
"Kellyn, that is a nice thought, but you don't want that. 
You were meant to be you. And Ryan was meant to be Ryan. 
You both are special in your own ways."

She was right. 
We both were meant to impact the world differently.
Ryan was Ryan. And he's absolutely irreplaceable.
And in light of the song playing,
perhaps he was a King, and I'm a Lionheart. 
He left behind a strong message, 
and I'll see to it that that message is heard.

Luckily, I'm not alone. 
Ryan's friends and half of SoHo approached my family right after Ryan's passing. 
Together we formed The Ryan Shuck Foundation.
A foundation in which we will actively honor and pay respect to Ryan's life,
and in doing that, help those who share similar struggles.

You see, I think Ryan left this life and went onto the next because he was ready. 
He had experienced what takes most people nearly a century to do.
He understood his struggles. He understood himself. 
He also understood that you live this life only once, and he lived it well. 

His favorite song in high school was Bon Jovi's "It's My Life."
He would pull into the garage, park for (I'm not kidding) an hour,
and listen to it on repeat. Seriously, over and over.
It drove me and Nikki crazy. 
In fact, it was the first laugh we shared when I got to Tampa for Ryan's funeral.
Anyway, the lyrics read:

I ain't gonna be just a face in the crowd
You're gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud.
It's my life. 
It's now or never. 
I ain't gonna live forever.
I just want live while I'm alive.
It's my life.

Maybe Ryan knew that he wasn't going to live to be 85.
Regardless, he understood and embraced the life he had been given.

The Ryan Shuck Foundation will be for those who aren't as fortunate as Ryan.
For people with physical disabilities who need help finding the spirit that Ryan possessed.
To embrace life and live it fully.
To feel confident in thriving in the world.

Running for Ryan is still very much alive,
and I cannot express how proud that makes me.
Ryan had quite an impact while on earth, 
but to know he will continue to shake the planet makes me speechless.
(well, clearly not all that speechless.)

September 8th will be the first annual 
Running for Ryan 5k in Tampa, FL.

This year's proceeds will go to the Hoyt Foundation, of which Ryan and I felt very connected to. 

The 5k website will be up this week to register, but here's the jist of it:
1) Register to run 
2) Gather other registrants and create a team
3) Find sponsors and gather donations
4) Run race
5) Get a super prize for fundraising the most cheddar
6) Drinks buckets of Coors Light at MacDinton's afterwards

And we thought that we wouldn't see Ryan again... 

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