- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Hospice Run and Fun Walk in St. Mary’s raises money, awareness
By JAMES A. McCRAY III
Staff writerBelieve in God, always.
It was that saying of 11-year-old Brogan Ruppert that rang loud amongst a particular group of about 60 people during Saturday’s 17th annual Run and Fun Walk for Hospice of St. Mary’s County.
Ruppert passed away on March 4 after a four-year battle with diffuse intrinsic pontine giloma, a cancerous tumor located in the middle of the brain stem, called “inoperable,” by Ruppert’s father, Kobey Ruppert of Mechanicsville.
Throughout Saturday’s event at the St. Mary’s County Governmental Center in Leonardtown, green shirts with the letters BIGA—an acronym of Ruppert’s phrase and a superimposed smiley face that Ruppert had drawn were plentiful in number.
Members from his church at First Saints Community Church in Leonardtown, family and friends wore the shirts as they walked and ran the course in helping raise money for Hospice of St. Mary’s and showing support to a person who had received assistance from Hospice, much as a large number of runners and walkers were doing.
“It’s awesome,” Kobey said. “It’s hard to put into words. It’s humbling, for sure. Brogan has been battling cancer for four years and the support has been incredible. It has enabled me to spend the most time without having to worry about making money and working. It’s been really crazy.”
He continued, “Hospice gave us support in the end with medical equipment. With the stuff that Hospice does, that’s why it was important to be present here.”
Kathleen Hammett of Hollywood, one of the Ruppert supporters and sporting a green skirt in honor of Brogan’s favorite color, won the women’s 10K race with a gun time of 43 minutes 15 seconds. She is also a member of First Saints Community Church.
“This is very emotional,” Hammett said. “I ran for Brogan who died, he didn’t get to make it, but he benefited from Hospice. I am a breast cancer survivor and for me to win, it just means a lot.”
Hammett admitted that she had tired some way through the course, but kept the thought of Ruppert in her mind.
“I felt like I had that support through the entire course,” Hammett said. “Every time I would feel weak, I would think of how hard he fought. He was given six months to live and he lived for four years, I believe. When I think about all his family has gone through, it helped me kick it in.”
Hammett admitted that she had never won a race before but has won at life already.
“I’ve been a first-place breast cancer survivor,” Hammett said.
Other women’s 10K winners included Jaime Branaman (Under-19 age group), Jennifer Hause (20-24), Emily Saunder (25-29), Lea Haubelt (30-34), Jena Lugosky (35-39), Valinda Nwadike (45-49), Debra Spatz (50-54), Liza Recto (55-59) and Donna Fitzgerald (70-74).
Spatz, an orthopedic surgeon at Calvert Memorial Hospital, was the doctor who diagnosed Ruppert.
Jim Dicus, one of the event’s top organizers, said that the event had a record turnout.
“The bottom line to why it’s so successful is because people know what Hospice is now,” Dicus admitted. “People come out because they know this event supports Hospice.”
He also added, “I think we try to put a lot of thought into it and we have a great volunteer team. In addition, the town of Leonardtown is really great for us and to us and that they allow us to go in and use the town.”
The overall men’s 10K winner was Paul Chasen of Towson.
Division winners of the men’s 10K run included Bobby Young (Under-19), Jason Grimes (25-29), Greg Imhof (35-39), Travis Priest (40-44), Neal Offenbacher (45-49), Tom Burke (50-54), Bob Schaller (55-59), Jim Rumple (60-64) and Maurice Mild (70-74).
David Strickland of Lexington Park won the men’s overall 5K race in 16:35 and was part of team Smartronix, winners of the 2012 Defender’s Cup, awarded to the team with the lowest cumulative time of four team runners.
“It makes me feel really good,” Strickland said of the win. “In eighth grade, I wanted to win my age division but the older kids won it and then last year, it was a third-place finish. This year, I was happy I finally got one.”
Other winners in the men’s 5K divisions were Robert Wiley (20-24), David Raley (25-29), Nicholas Cahill (30-34), Stephen Roe (35-39), Jim Reining (40-44), Perry Rapp (45-49), Mark Converse (50-54), Glen Ives (55-59), Don Brenneman (60-64), Christopher Krush (65-69), Edward Fitzgerald (70-74) and James Wilson Davis (75-99).
Julia Smith of Virginia was the overall women’s 5K winner and other winners by division were Sam Zarzaca (Under-19), Brittany Boylan (20-24), Tiffannie Feuerbach (25-29), Sierra Schenk (30-34), Lisa Sullivan (35-39), Julia Smith (40-44), Tamara Pennell (45-49), Monica Juran (50-54), Paula Miller (55-59), Carol Genco (60-64) and Srimati Kamala (65-69).