Take a moment to meet Ryan Tomlin, a junior from Heyworth, Illinois. Ryan is going to spend his summer traveling the country but not in the exact way you may think.
Tell us a little about yourself. I came on a college visit to Missouri State my senior year of high school. Springfield is about 5 ½ hours away from Heyworth. My family and I managed to fit an 11 hour trip in a car and a college visit into one day. That one visit was all I needed to know that I was going to attend MSU in the fall of 2015. I plan to graduate with a degree in Marketing Management, and I’m a member and founding father of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity.
Tell us about the run you will be doing this summer. Well, let me start by saying that anytime I tell someone what I’m doing this summer they call me crazy. Their second response is to call me Forrest Gump. This summer, I will be running the 4K for Cancer, with a team of 25 other college students from all across the country, embarking on a 49 day, 4000+ mile journey from San Francisco to Boston. I was looking for a marathon to run this summer, and once I came across this program, I fell in love with it. The application process was strenuous, consisting of multiple essays, a background check, and multiple phone interviews, but I was accepted in to the program, and I’m excited for the summer.
How do you train for a 4000 mile run? How you go about training to run 4,000 miles is pretty daunting. You have to take it one day at a time. Our training started January 1st and consists of multiple run days a week, multiple cross training days, and a rest day or two a week. The biggest thing our trainers stress to us is if something feels uncomfortable, we need to go at our own pace. I’m averaging about 40-45 miles a week and am increasing that as we get closer to the start of the run.
Why is this run important to you? This run is important to me because it’s so much bigger than me. I’m a part of something that makes such a big difference in the cancer community. I am running this marathon because of the impact our team can make.
All of the funds we raise go straight to the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. The funds provide chemo bags to patients, fund bone marrow registry drives across America, scholarships, patient navigation, and the UCF House. Patient navigation is a free program that ensures no young adult ever faces cancer alone. UCF House provides one-on-one support & resources to young adults and their families to help them manage the cancer experience and long-term cancer survival. The Ulman Cancer Fund broke ground this year on a “home away from home” to provide free housing for young adult cancer patients, and their caregivers, in East Baltimore.
Along the way, we will be having service days in the cities we run through. We will stay an extra day in one of our city stops and our whole team will help around the community.
All the food and housing for us this summer is all donated. We have what we call Leg Leaders. They are our teammates, and they take a certain portion of our journey and they work with local businesses, churches, and other groups or organizations in the areas we are running through to see if they would like to donate food or a place to sleep for the night.
This is the 17th annual 4k for Cancer and this year, we have six teams: New York, San Francisco, Portland, Baltimore, Seattle, and Boston. I’m a member of the Boston team. Up to this point, we have raised a total of $602,977.72. We are hoping to beat last year’s donations.
What do you hope to gain from this opportunity? I believe this is a perfect fit for me. I have years of running experience and I’m looking to push my body to the limits. I want to use this opportunity to make a difference in the cancer community. I have always wanted to make my parents proud, and I feel this run would provide me with the chance to show them how inspiring they are to me. It’s providing me with a chance to meet others who want to participate in a life changing experience. I believe the people I’m going to meet along the way will make a lasting impression on me. I’m quite confident this will be a humbling experience for me.
To read more about Ryan’s summer run, visit his fundraising page at https://ulman.z2systems.com/ryan-tomlin.