Adventurous, loving, and kind-hearted, Tommy was an amazing five-year old boy. He loved being outdoors and doing anything sports related. It was not unusual to see him riding his dirt bike outside while using no hands or standing on the seat for more of a thrill.
Fear rarely surfaced in his emotions, even throughout his illness. A distinct kindness accompanied his opposition of fear. He had an amazing heart and found such joy in giving to others.
Being from Philadelphia, Tommy was an avid Eagles fan. His teacher in Michigan hadn’t quite converted him to a Lions fan but was successful with the Michigan college sports teams. When the entire family went to the Lions vs. Eagles game for Thanksgiving in 2015, Tommy was so excited!
After the Lions destroyed the Eagles that day, we were walking out in all our Eagles gear and a Lions fan yelled to Tommy, “Fly back home, little Eagle!” Without hesitation, Tommy proudly replied, “Hey, pick on somebody your own size!”
He was passionate with all his heart and loved so deeply – something evident in everything he did, even at just five years old.
– Amanda Ruddy, Tommy’s mom
How Team Tommy Became a ChadTough DIPG Partner Family
It was difficult for Tammi Carr not to be taken by the blonde little boy who looked so much like Chad. Tommy Ruddy, diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) on August 12, 2016, had the same bright blonde hair and infectious smile.
Upon hearing of Tommy’s diagnosis, Tammi had forwarded her phone number to Tommy’s mom, Amanda, and their relationship grew.
“I can’t explain it, there was just a connection between us,” said Tammi. “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.”
The Ruddy’s – Tom, Amanda, and Isabella – became the very first ChadTough Partner Family, honoring Tommy by raising funds and awareness for DIPG research through The ChadTough Foundation.
“It has definitely been a journey channeling grief into fundraising, but it is a big way we keep Tommy’s memory and giving spirit alive,” said Amanda.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Tommy was diagnosed with DIPG almost two years after they moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The community embraced their family, providing continuous support during such a difficult time.
“The community has been amazing,” said Amanda. “We’re non-Michigan natives — complete strangers to this area — and they’ve totally embraced us and welcomed us in. I come home to flowers on the doorstep or wine and cheese on my doorstep, and people just seem to know when we need lifted the most.”
“That’s how I know prayers really work, because in the moments that I need it, these little things will show up. Or just a text or even a card.”
The first year of fundraising, the Ruddy family held their own garage sale and their 1st Annual RunTough for Team Tommy event. Now in the second year, they have recognized a significant opportunity within their community: running.
Their 2nd Annual RunTough for Team Tommy event raised more than $25,000, and they are generating support and awareness for The ChadTough Foundation through marathons and other competitive races.
“This is a huge running community,” said Amanda. “Tom started running once Tommy was diagnosed, and he was completely swept up by the culture. He is running in the Chicago Marathon to honor Tommy and support ChadTough, as have other friends and neighbors of ours.”
More About Tommy
Tommy Ruddy was born on November 11, 2010 to parents, Tom and Amanda. The Ruddy family – Tom, Amanda, Isabella, and Tommy – moved to Michigan from Pennsylvania in 2014. Tommy was diagnosed on August 12, 2016, bravely fighting DIPG for 11 weeks before gaining his angel wings on November 3, 2016.