Middletown, NJ – On Saturday, June 26, Ryan’s Run was held on the grounds of Mountain Hill School where 520 runners finished the seventh annual 5K event, and 150 runners ran in the 1 mile run in an effort that is not only good for the heart, but good the soul.

Andy Kaiser, Ryan’s Run Co-Director addressed the crowd saying, “Everyone here who participates does so for a personal reason.  I have my own, you have yours, and this race offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on what they are and what is meaningful to you in your life.”

Organized by the Ryan Andrew Kaiser Memorial Foundation (RAKMF) along with the Jersey Shore Running Club, the first Ryan’s Run was held in 2004 after the sudden and unexpected death of Ryan Kaiser, the 6-year-old son of Andy and Lauren Kaiser who was born with Congenital Heart Disease and had undergone three open heart surgeries before he was two years old.

Ryan’s Run is the sole fundraising event for the RAKMF which financially assists local families of critically ill children, donates funds to hospitals and doctor groups that specialize in the cure and care of pediatric heart patients, and helps build children’s parks and playgrounds, dedicated in Ryan’s name, to provide children and their families with a safe and fun place to play.

The event has become known as one of Monmouth County’s premier running events and attracts attention from both the running and philanthropic communities through its inspiring mission and family-friendly race day.

Its well crafted course of road and trail through Huber Woods and the Navesink horse country is known to be unlike any other in the area which organizers, like Phil Hinck of the Jersey Shore Running Club, believe is part of the race’s great appeal.

“There is a very festive and family atmosphere about the race, especially finishing right on top of the hill at the school after running one of the most scenic courses in Monmouth County,” said Hinck.  “As word spreads through the running community about the great pre-race party the night before and post race festivities, this race is destined to become one of the hot items on the racing circuit.”

In addition to repeat sponsorship of the Friday night, pre-race barbecue from Outback Steakhouse, the race has continued sponsorship from The Mountain Hill School, Alpert & Zales Pediatric Cardiology,  Napoli Boys Italian Ices, Powerade, The Monmouth Journal, 94.3 The Point, Eastpointe Health & Fitness, and the nation’s largest playground manufacturer, GameTime.  New to supporting Ryan’s Run this year was sponsorship from ING, race bags and refreshments donated by Whole Foods Market, and lead race sponsorship from K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital.

Middletown-based personal training group Mommy Moves garnered over 50 new moms through their Mommy Runs program to wear pink shirts and work together towards their 5K goal selecting Ryan’s Run as the pinnacle of their fitness accomplishments.

Mother-of-two Tara Benson, of Red Bank, trained to run Ryan’s Run through Mommy Moves and called the two organizations a good fit for one another.  “As mothers, this was a great experience to do as our first run together,” she said.  “Having children of our own and hearing what the Kaiser family went through, this race is about something more than just fitness – it’s about recognizing your own blessings and offering something back in return.”

On Saturday, Ryan’s Run raised over $52,000 that will go towards their community based initiatives with plans to grow the RAKMF footprint in larger, more national efforts where needed.

Of the organization’s grassroots achievements and good-natured mindset Kaiser said,  “We started out doing something great in memory of our son, but the run may be moving beyond us as our runners tell us that this race is more important to them than we know.”

For more information about the RAKMF or to be placed on their email mailing list for next year’s race and updates, visit www.ryansrun.org , friend them on FaceBook, or call Andy Kaiser directly at 888-664-9522.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...