Maple Valley resident Ryan Light earned a spot to run in the NYC Marathon, the largest event of its kind.
But Hurricane-turned-storm-Sandy may thwart Light’s dream to run the NYC Marathon and raise awareness for Go For Hope International, a charity that supports educational opportunities for children in South America.
The race is set for November 4, but as of Tuesday morning, officials are still trying to assess whether or not the event can be pulled off following the power outages and massive amount of damage caused by Sandy.
Light had planned a fundraising effort for Go for Hope while training for the NYC Marathon. Go for Hope caught his attention because he relates to struggles of children in poverty-stricken Nicaragua, which is one focus of the charity. He can relate to a rough childhood.
Light’s younger years weren’t the rosiest. A stepchild of a Mafioso, Light grew up in a home filled with drugs, alcohol, and violence in a seedy New York City neighborhood. At school he was labeled a “problem child” and was classified by his school district as “mentally deficient.”
His parents were absent and offered little support, so Light left home at age 18 with no allies and no intention of ever returning. After separating himself from his roots, Light learned that education and mentorship was the key to success.
He credits his turnaround to a friend who became a father figure and mentor.
“He loved me, he treated me well, and more importantly, he took an interest in me. I hadn’t had that before,” he says. “He showed me the value of mentorship and of having someone in your life who cares about your life choices.”
And that’s why he shares the passion of Go For Hope’s outreach to Central American children who lack role models and have few educational opportunities.
“Go for Hope is important to me because it provides mentorship to these kids. It partners with organizations in Central America already active in the local communities and developing strong mentors for them. I was one of those kids, and I know it can mean the difference between life and death.
“Long Island City kids needed mentors,” says Light. “Kids across the world are looking for someone to come alongside them.”
His flight back to New York was cancelled. If he is unable to run in the NYC Marathon, his efforts to raise money for the Lighthouse Scholarship through Go for Hope may be dampened as well, so Light is putting out a call to his community to help him raise money for this cause regardless of his ability to race this year.
This trip back East would have been Light’s first visit to his childhood neighborhood since he left in his teens.
Light continues to try to find a way to get to NYC for the marathon. Patch will update this story if Light is able to travel to New York, and if the race is not cancelled.
Go For Hope has named the Lighthouse Scholarship after Light. He is currently a senior program manager at Microsoft.
To donate to Light’s cause in support of his marathon, visit http://fundly.com/RyanLightNYCbound. To find more information about Go For Hope International, visitwww.GoForHope.org.