Jim Ryan - OMF Warrior

Goofy Challenge: Half Marathon + Full Marathon

Dear Friends and Family,

I am asking once again for your help. As many of you know, I have used running marathons as a means to raise awareness and funds for the Ocular Melanoma Foundation. I thank the many people who have offered their emotional and financial support in the past while I ran in Washington DC and Boston. I am so grateful for the many kind friends that have continued to share their generosity. I am hoping to rally support one more time as I train for another event.

As many of you know, our dear friend, Barb Strong Ritchie, lost her battle with ocular melanoma on March 21, 2010. Since that time, Barb and Scott would have shared another anniversary. Scott, Audrey and Michael have each had another birthday. Barb would have been a year older as well. Scott has lost a beloved wife. Audrey and Michael have lost a loving and compassionate mother. Life continues for the rest of us however the sting of Barb’s loss is still sharp for me.

I am heartened by the kind thoughts shared by the many people at Barb’s memorial service. It truly was a celebration of her wonderful life. One of Barb’s dearest friends sang beautifully which made people weep. Father Matt spoke of Barb’s life and somehow made people laugh. Three dear friends of Barb and Scott’s gave eulogies, which were touching, warm and heartfelt. As the many fine qualities which defined Barb’s personality were shared, it made her friends feel lucky to have known her. Time permitting, I think everyone in the church wanted to stand up and tell the others how much Barb meant to them. Stories were shared about Barb’s lively spirit, her generosity and ability to be kind to all. She had the rare quality to make everyone feel as if they were her best friend. Barb was genuine, sincere and kind. She was also very funny and quick to laugh. It is Barb’s sense of humor which I remember and miss the most. Barb had a mischievous smile and a glint in her eye that suggested that she was capable of anything. I think back fondly on the many times that she and I would dare each other to do something outrageous or embarrassing in public. The bet was always for the same amount, one dollar. Barb and I must have passed back and forth the same dollar several hundred times over the years. Any one of Barb’s friends could share dozens of similar stories of her zest for living and passion for life.

As I considered how to best continue with Barb’s request of me to raise money for OMF, I was looking for another event. With Barb’s spirit in mind, I decided I would have to run the Goofy Challenge in Disney World. On January 5th, I will run a half marathon. On January 6th, I will run the full marathon. It seems crazy, outrageous and silly. The setting is the most magical place on Earth. Barb would love it. I wish she were here to bet me one dollar that I wouldn’t finish. I would gladly take it from her after 39.3 miles.

In memory of Barb, please do two things. First, kindly make a donation to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation. If we can cure this unusual and poorly understood cancer, we can cure all cancers. Secondly, do something goofy today.

Your friend,

Jim Ryan
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