As the 4th Annual RunTough for ChadTough event gears up for September, you may be wondering why a second “local” race has been added to the registration page.
The Grand Rapids RunTough for Team Tommy was added this year because of the partnership formed between the Carr and Ruddy families upon the loss of Tommy Ruddy to Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) last fall.
“I can’t explain it, there was just a connection between us,” said Tammi Carr, who had forwarded her phone number to Amanda Ruddy upon hearing of Tommy’s diagnosis.
“Jason and Lloyd attended Tommy’s funeral and then Amanda and I met a bit after that. She and Tom were inspired by what we were doing with ChadTough and wanted to contribute.”
That desire turned into the Ruddys — Tom, Amanda, and Isabella — becoming a “partner family,” spearheading their own events as a way to raise money for The ChadTough Foundation.
“We are a small group, but have such a great support system,” said Amanda. “There is no way I could have put together anything the way I have without the help of this community.”
Originally from Pennsylvania, the Ruddy’s move to Grand Rapids was due to a job location change for Tom.
“It’s as though we were meant to be here,” said Amanda. “Everyone has been incredible.”
RunTough for Team Tommy
For the Carrs and Ruddys, losing their sons to DIPG has created an unbreakable bond. It’s the reason they chose to partner together to raise funds and awareness for DIPG, a disease that receives next to no federal funding.
“What Tammi and Jason have done with The ChadTough Foundation is just incredible,” said Amanda. “We are honored just to be included with what they’re doing.”
The Ruddys held their own Team Tommy garage sale to benefit ChadTough in Grand Rapids, raising more than $11,000. Amanda attended the DIPG Symposium with the foundation in May and Tommy was honored at the ChadTough Gala.
Now, they will hold their own RunTough event in Grand Rapids.
“Originally, we were just going to have a virtual race here to honor Tommy,” said Amanda, “but too many people wanted to participate, so we had to turn it into its own race.”
The Ruddys are expecting approximately 300 participants.
“It’s been incredible to receive the kind of support we get,” said Amanda. “We wouldn’t be where we are without it … it’s helped carry us through.”
Moving Forward As A Team
When this year’s RunTough for ChadTough race is held on September 23, they will be less than six weeks from the one-year anniversary of losing Tommy. Tommy, who was diagnosed on August 12, 2016, fought for 11 weeks before succumbing to DIPG on November 3.
“This disease is just absolutely heart wrenching and it’s torture,” said Amanda back in February. “You sit and watch your child have their abilities and capabilities taken away one by one.
“It’s just awful and so unfair and I just hope to God that one day it can be different.”
Amanda, Tom, and Isabella will continue to work with The ChadTough Foundation to bring that hope to fruition. The Carrs are glad to have them on board.
“We felt a special bond with the Ruddys, which is why we asked them to join our team,” said Tammi. “It’s great to have others alongside us in this fight against DIPG.”
Join the Fight
You can join the fight by registering for the RunTough for ChadTough 5K or 1 Mile in Saline, Grand Rapids, or virtually. Each participant receives a t-shirt, wristband, and race packet.
“This event has been incredible from the first year it was thrown together right after Chad was diagnosed,” said Tammi. “It’s evolved into something amazing that really captures the community spirit and support.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Saline and pictures of all the participants in Grand Rapids and — literally — around the globe.”
Visit chadtough.org/run to register!