Dec. 6, 2013
For immediate release

A group of 26 plans to give medals, bibs to families

Carden Ryder went home for the holidays to Newtown, Conn. last year with a heavy heart, her community and the nation stunned by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed 26 lives.

What could she do to help?

“I was grasping at straws,” she said. “I decided I wanted to run a half marathon for the victims. There were 26. Then I thought, 26 miles, I should run a full marathon this year to honor the victims.

“A coach said, ‘I’ll train you.’ It snowballed from there.”

The Oakland runner wound up putting together a group of 26 people who plan to run in the California International Marathon on Sunday, then give their medals and bibs to the families of those who died on that horrible day.

They plan to wear green shirts with the words ‘Sandy Hook Elementary’ to honor the victims of the shootings that happened at the Newtown school on Dec. 14, 2012.

“Each of us will run in honor of one of the victims,” said Ryder, who will be running in her first marathon when she challenges the 26.2-mile distance from near Folsom Dam to the steps of the state Capitol.

“I’m determined to finish, regardless of how I cross the finish. Running, wobbling, rolling or crawling, I’m crossing that finish line.

“It’s not about me. It’s about someone else. I can’t let others down.”

Ryder, a 26-year-old para-educator at an elementary school in Oakland, was born and raised in another part of Connecticut before moving to Newtown for her high school years a decade ago. She moved to Oakland in July of 2012.

Other members of her group coming to the CIM live in Washington state or the Bay Area. Together, they hope to do something positive in the wake of something so horrible.

Ryder has run two half marathons to honor the victims; she plans to complete a total of 26 half marathons in the next few years in addition to finishing the CIM so she can honor each victim.

“CIM will be a very difficult race,” she said. “The nature of the race, it will be just a little bit emotional.”

The CIM is put on by the Sacramento Running Association. A field of 9,000 marathoners and 4,000 relay runners is expected for the 7 a.m. race, with another 2,000 participants likely for the 2.62-mile maraFUNrun at 8 the finish area.

“We are honored to be a part of this tribute to the victims that died in the Sandy Hook tragedy,” SRA Executive Director Ellen Moore said. “The marathon experience can be very moving in itself as it challenges you physically, mentally and emotionally.

“The way Carden has chosen to remember and honor the fallen from her hometown is very inspirational. We wish her and the rest of the group the best on December 8.”

The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.