The O’Malley family lost its youngest son Ryan, ’99, in 2011, and has hosted the Ryan O’Malley Annual Race (ROAR) in his honor the past two years. This will be the third year the family is hosting the 5K run/walk, which will begin at 9 a.m. May 17 at Nay Aug Park.
John O’Malley, Ph.D., Ryan’s father, promised at Ryan’s eulogy that The University would have a scholarship in his honor, and The Ryan T. O’Malley ’99 Memorial Scholarship was created.
John O’Malley said Ryan loved others from a distance by participating in 5K runs for charitable causes, so it was only right to honor Ryan’s memory with a 5K of his own.
“Ryan’s passion was using his physical attributes for charitable causes. He did a lot of bike rides and five marathons for diabetes. He did one marathon for arthritis for his grandma,” John O’Malley said. “It was always about somebody else. That was really his way of relating to people.”
Julianne Philipp, Ryan’s sister, is the race director of ROAR. She said The University and the community have done an outstanding job in helping to honor Ryan’s memory through the run.
“Of course, the main reason we do the event is to remember Ryan in the best way that we can, which is to run for him. He ran for all of us and with all of us at one point in our lives and he ran for other people. His friends and our close family members couldn’t think of a better way to pay tribute to his memory,” Philipp said. “Especially for The University of Scranton to take such a big role in supporting the race, I don’t think it could happen as successfully as it has happened, and the community support has been just phenomenal.”
ROAR hosted 100-150 participants last year and close to 200 the first year of the run in 2013. She said the scholarship will be awarded to a University student who has similar values to those of Ryan.
“The scholarship is awarded not only to a student studying computer science, which Ryan studied, but also someone who embodies Ryan’s commitment to fitness and his commitment to community service,” Philipp said.
“So as a family we’ve taken on the mission to support services in the area that help different community members.”
The aim of the run is to promote health for all ages while remembering Ryan, who loved children. According to the event’s press release, the O’Malley family will support Friends of the Poor by hosting 90 children and donating $1,000 to the organization.
The event will also have three “fun runs” for children, kid’s fitness challenges, kid’s fingerprinting and K9 unit stations provided by the Scranton Police Department, face painting, food and DJ entertainment.
The Center for Independent Living in Scranton is sponsoring the T-shirts for the event and will have members of the staff helping work the run.
The center supports the focus of ROAR on promoting opportunities for physical activity by providing services for the aging and persons with disabilities so they can remain living at home.
Kelly Brown, the vice president of administration at the center, said the staff is eager to help out to remember Ryan through a day of fun physical activity.
“I’m sure Jack (John O’Malley) will put us to work and we’ll do whatever he wants us to,” Brown said. “We’ll definitely have staff members there cheering people on. If they can’t participate in the race, they’ll be cheering people on or volunteering.”
Brown’s organization also facilitated the involvement of IM ABLE, a nonprofit organization that provides adaptive sporting equipment for people with disabilities, in the event.
John O’Malley said he tried to schedule even more activities for the day, but Philipp, his daughter, had to “rein him in” while she was organizing everything.
“This year we know there will be some people coming up and enjoying the day with us,” John O’Malley said. “It’ll show some people, ‘Wow that’s resilience, man, that’s human nature.’”