By Bill Althaus
Although she lived in Eastern Jackson County for a short time, Ryan Christian made a lasting impact on those who met her or followed her courageous battle against a rare form of cancer that claimed her life when she was just 11 years old.
The daughter of former Missouri Mavericks all-star Jeff Christian knew she was sick, but she never let the disease sap a moment of joy out of the life she shared with her mom Dorie, dad Jeff, her dogs, cats, fish, hamster and the countless bugs and frogs she collected in her many outdoor adventures. She had an inquisitive soul and a smile that lit up a community. And now, she is gone. But anyone who ever met Ryan Christian is a better person for that meeting.
Dayna Murray is one of those individuals who was touched by Ryan and her family. She and her family were neighbors of the Christians and she is attempting to help raise money for St. Jude's Hospital.
Murray is hosting the first St. Jude's Bowling fundraiser from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Lunar Bowl in Blue Springs. Tickets to the event are $15 and can be purchased at the door. The ticket includes shoes and three hours of bowling.
There will also be raffles and a silent auction. Items up for auction include a massage, acupuncture, Pampered Chef products, a family photo shoot and artwork.
“We can't thank Dana and all our friends back in Independence and Blue Springs for helping with this fundraiser,” said Dorie, who plans on attending the event. “We weren't in Blue Springs for a long period of time, but we made friendships that will last a lifetime.”
For the fourth year in a row, Dorie is participating as "Team Ryan" in the St. Jude Marathon weekend (www.stjudemarathon.org). It is one of the largest fundraisers for the hospital.
“They have already raised $2 million, and I believe their goal this year is $4 million,” Dorie said. “It costs $1.8 million per day to operate St. Jude, so this really helps to operate the hospital for about a day and a half.
“This started really small for us, with about 10 people running the first year. We have more than 30 people running with us this year, which is huge! Runners come from Arizona, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Mississippi, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and New York.”
The Missouri Team Ryan consists of Dayna, Heather Hastings, Hans and Ryan Pinkas-Hernandez and Dayna's parents from Iowa - Bev and Joe Stanley. Their goal is to raise $2,500.
“Right now, we've raised $563,” Murray said, “so we're hoping this weekend's fundraiser puts us over the top to reach our goal. I've never done anything like this and it's a week filled with a lot of anxiety and hope.
“We hope people will come out to support ‘Team Ryan’ and help raise funds for St. Jude's because they so many wonderful things there.”
The 'Team Ryan' webpage is http://heroes.stjude.org/teamryanmissouri.