EXETER — Mary Ann Ratajczak enjoys running for fun, but this fall she’ll run for a bigger cause.
The Exeter resident will participate in the TCS New York City Marathon, which will be held Nov. 4 and benefits children and adults at Allied Services living with disabilities.
“I ran a lot of different races and half marathons and thought it was time to step up my game a little bit,” Ratajczak said. “I ran an event in Scranton last year and I saw all these people that run the New York City Marathon and I was impressed with all these kids.”
It was there she met Ryan Lecky of WNEP-TV who connected her with Charlotte Harris and Jim Brogan, both of whom allowed Ratajczak to join the WNEP Ryan’s Run team that runs the NYC Marathon.
To be part of the team, she has to raise $5,000 which she is doing through the WNEP Ryan’s Run page on the Allied Services Foundation website.
“We have to raise $5,000 because it’s a charity,” Ratajczak said. The deadline to reach $5,000 is October and whatever I don’t get through donations, I pay out of pocket.”
Currently, she’s raised over $4,681.
Not only is Ratajczak running for everyone at Allied Services, she’s also running for her new friend Mikey Ash, a 13-year-old boy from Exeter who lives with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome (RTS).
RTS is a genetic disease that involves broad thumbs and toes, short stature, distinctive facial features and varying degrees of intellectual disability.
“I met Mikey through a nurse here at Geisinger (where I work),” Ratajczak said. “I actually just met him and I have a route that I run on Sundays, and when I finish my run is where Mikey lives. I ran past his house every Sunday and I didn’t even know it.”
Mikey’s mom Nicole said when her son met Ratajczak, he gave her a big hug and a high five as if they had known each other for years.
In an interview three years ago with the Sunday Dispatch, Nicole said she was told her son would never walk, talk or breathe on his own.
He does all of those and then some, despite some recent setbacks.
“He’s had some setbacks since a few years ago with surgeries and he has juvenile arthritis, and it makes it hard to get in and out of a car, going up and down stairs,” Nicole said. “He’s still defying what they said he wouldn’t do.”
Mikey gets stronger everyday through physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, feeding therapy and vision therapy with Allied Services.
Nicole said feeding therapy helps Mikey learn to hold eating utensils, feed himself, chew and introduces him to different food textures.
“We do this two to three times a week for 10 years,” she said.” But over time, even if we have a setback, we set new goals and he continues to reach them which makes him a champion. Ts what made Ratajczak say, ‘How can I dare complain when he does what he does with smile?’”
Before Ratajczak runs the NYC Marathon, she and Mikey have a goal they want to accomplish together.
“The (Allied Services) All Abilities Walk is being held in October, and Mikey and Mary Ann both want to walk a lap together,” said Nicole.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher