Hours before high school seniors from the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area receive their diplomas on Sunday, a few hundred people will be honoring the memory of one senior who never made it to his commencement.
The third-annual 5K Run/Walk For Ryan at Middletown High School will raise money for a scholarship fund set up by the family of Ryan R. Wagner, a 17-year-old Townsend resident who died after suffering sudden cardiac arrest in February 2011.
“Ryan was among the top 15 of his class, a member of the honor society and had been accepted to the University of Delaware’s engineering program when he passed,” said Ryan’s father, Richard Wagner. “At the time, some of the girls on my daughter’s travelling soccer team felt they needed to do something to help support us and the scholarship we were setting up in his honor, and that’s how the 5K came about.”
Through proceeds raised from sponsorships and entrance fees at the 5K, the Wagner family has been able to award $13,000 in scholarships to four graduates of Middletown and Appoquinimink high schools who are now or soon will be studying engineering at UD.
Wagner said he hopes to raise enough money to award $10,000 worth of scholarships to four more high school seniors next year.
“I’m just awestruck that we’ve been able to award that kind of money thanks to the generous support of businesses and families in this community,” he said. “It’s quite a tribute to a wonderful young man.”
More than 100 people have already signed up to participate in Sunday’s walk/run, but Wagner said most registrations are made the day of the event.
Race day registration will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Middletown High School. The fee to compete in the competitive walk or run is $25 per person.
A free Healthy Kids Race will begin at 10 a.m., followed by the competitive walk/run, which starts promptly at 10:15 a.m.
After the race, awards will be presented to the top three finishers in variety of age groups.
All competitors will receive a free race T-shirt, while “Fly Like Ryan” T-shirts also will be on sale at the event for $12.
Anyone interested in making a separate donation to the Ryan R. Wagner Scholarship Fund can do so by visiting www.flylikeRyan.com, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Richard Wagner at (302) 388-5940.