On Saturday morning, January 28, members of the Stetson baseball team were running for a far different reason. The Hatters took part in the Me Strong 5K in DeLand to help raise money for cancer research and to support families dealing with cancer.
The event was held in honor of Linda Ryan, a local resident and a supporter of Stetson athletics, who is the third battle against cancer in her life. Before the return of her disease, Ryan trained for, and ran in, the San Diego marathon in 2011.
Members of the Stetson athletics family were recruited to participate in the Me Strong 5K by James Stem, who serves as Director of Operations and Facilities for Stetson Athletics. Before assuming his current duties, Stem served as general manager of the DeLand Suns, a summer college league baseball team.
“The Ryan Family took me in for the summer, always inviting me over dinner, helping me out with various duties as the GM, always coming out to the ball games and supporting the Suns,” Stem said. “After the summer, I truly started to grow a special bond with the family.”
In addition to garnering the support of the Stetson athletics family, Stem participated in the event and finished fifth in the 25-29 age group.
The Ryan family – which includes Linda’s husband Sean and sons Matthew (14) and Ethan (10) – worked together with friends to organize the 5K in DeLand. The event drew more than 800 runners.
In addition to the participation of the baseball team, the Stetson women’s soccer team, women’s golf team and cheerleading squad also participated in the event. The soccer team, along with coaches Julie Orlowski and Brittany Jones, along with members of the golf team, were placed along the race route to help guide runners.
The cheerleaders, as well as new Stetson mascot John B., were stationed in front of the Edmunds Center to provide encouragement for the runners.
All 35 members of the baseball team finished in the top 35 of their age groups, 10 in the 15-19 group and 25 in the 20-24 group. Senior pitcher Tucker Donahue was the top finisher for the baseball team, coming in fifth in the 20-24 group, good for 66th overall, with a time of 24:05.
Also among the runners was the wife of men’s assistant basketball coach Steve Drabyn, Brittany, who finished 19th overall and won her 25-29 age group with a time of 20:43.
Most remarkably, Linda Ryan finished 28th in her age group and continues to carry the fight to a dreaded disease. Matthew Ryan finished 79th overall and 12th in his age group while Ethan finished 31st in his age group.
The overall top finishers for the men were Christopher Anderson of Port Orange with a time of 17:31, Salvatore Mancini of West Palm Beach with a time of 17:52 and Hunter Tolbert of DeLand with a time of 18:22.
The top overall female finishers were Sue O’Malley of Port Orange with a time of 19:26, Bego Lopez of DeLand with a time of 19:31 and Alexa Gemma of South Daytona with a time of 19:48.