110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Jen Horton
posted Feb 8, 2013 - 6:50:47am
DeLand’s Me Strong 5K, inspired by one woman’s battle with cancer, drew the biggest crowd of runners and walkers of any 5K ever staged in West Volusia.
As DeLand resident Linda Ryan’s cancer diminished and finally disappeared, the race she inspired has grown. In its first year, Me Strong had more than 800 participants. This year, there were 1,142.
Witnessing the massive support rendered Ryan speechless.
“I wish I had words,” she said.
The 3.1-mile race from Downtown DeLand to the DeLand Municipal Airport drew entire families, runners in their 70s and one 80 years old, and runners of all abilities. The fastest time was 17 minutes, one second, logged by 20-year-old Andrew Epifanio. The slowest time was one hour, 31 minutes and 39 seconds.
Ryan said some people were racing to honor their loved ones who have battled, or are battling, cancer.
“It was so wonderful to see the community completely surround and lift up what we were doing,” Ryan said.
John Boyle of DeLand, 72, placed first in the men’s division age 70 and older.
“I really like this race,” Boyle said. “It’s such a good cause, and Linda is such a nice person.”
Boyle owns Alta Vista Sports, a sports-management company, so he’s run a few races in his day.
“I don’t really race a lot these days. I’m busy doing race management,” Boyle said.
But, he was able to run in DeLand this year, and finish the course in 23 minutes and 19 seconds.
“I hadn’t run a 5K in about six years,” he said. “It was good fun.”
Boyle said a race in Daytona Beach celebrating the anniversary of the 24-hour race beat out Me Strong as the biggest turnout in the entire county.
Sherry DelRosso had three family members in the race: son Dominic, husband Dave and daughter Angelina.
Angelina was the subject of news coverage in the summer of 2012, after she was bitten on the leg by a shark while surfing. That leg carried the teen over the Me Strong 5K course Saturday in just 30 minutes and 38 seconds.
“Angelina is doing wonderful,” Sherry DelRosso said. “She’s back playing softball; she’s been back in the ocean on her surfboard ... she just ran a 5K.”
The Me Strong 5K raises more than spirits; it raises awareness of health, and also raises money to help others. The Me Strong committee will discuss how this year’s proceeds will be distributed.
“We will continue to help individuals battling cancer,” Ryan said.
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