For the second year in a row, Fresno State alumnus Ryan Stiner embarked on a 10-day, 200-mile run to raise awareness for autism.
With proceeds benefiting the Autism Center at Fresno State and the California Autism Center, Stiner’s run began in San Francisco on Oct. 27 and finished in Fresno on Nov. 5.
Unlike the first year of the run, Stiner entered this year’s trek without much preparation.
“Last year I had a pretty good amount of free time and I used that solely to prepare for the run,” Stiner said. “This year I didn’t have any free time, so it was difficult to get in the mileage that I thought I needed.”
Consequently, Stiner started this year’s run with some doubt.
“I knew I would finish it, but I had doubts as far as expectations for myself,” he said. “I wanted to not walk at all. I wanted to run the whole thing and I ended up doing that. I did better this year with less training.”
After raising more than $10,000 in the first year of the run, Stiner was even more motivated for this year’s journey.
“I wanted to make sure this year was just as successful, if not more,” Stiner said. “You have a lot of people watching and you don’t wanna let them down.”
But the run also serves as a chance for Stiner to challenge himself.
“When I set out to do something, I’m not gonna just do it. I’m gonna really, really conquer it,” he said. “It was my idea to do the run. Therefore, I really felt the need to push myself a little bit harder.”
With his self-driven motivation and the overwhelming support he received from the community, Stiner was able to complete another successful venture.
This year’s success, however, isn’t measured by dollars.
“We raised less money so far this year than we did last year. But I think it was marketly more successful,” Stiner said. “I don’t feel like I’m putting a spin on this just to put a spin. I really do believe this. The money is important, but right now in the first three, four, five years, the money isn’t the draw. The draw is getting people’s attention focused on this cause.”
As he prepared for the second year of the run, Stiner noticed more people who have become familiar with the cause.
“They know the name of it and we’re getting the details hammered out, so year after year it becomes second nature and they expect it to happen,” Stiner said. “The money will follow then. From the standpoint of getting the word out, it was much more successful this year.”
While Stiner runs for people who are impacted by autism, he has affected an even wider range of people.
“I’m surprised by the number of people who reach out to me and say ‘you’re such an inspiration and I’m inspired to run now,’” Stiner said. “They started exercising and running because of my run. It has nothing to do with the autism aspect, but that’s great.”
For next year, Stiner plans to add at least 50 miles to the run, while still finishing in 10 days.
Having been inspired by his run, people have also asked to join Ryan’s Run.
For the moment, however, Stiner is a solo journeyman.
“I’ve been getting a lot of questions about whether or not other people can run with me,” Stiner said. “I’ll look into some options with that, but I’m hesitant because that’s a liability issue. And I know I can rely on myself. I can finish the run, but I can’t speak for other people. I don’t want to put somebody in a position where they may hurt themselves.”
Still, Stiner is overwhelmed by the response from the public.
“They’re overjoyed. They’re thankful. They’re happy,” he said. “I’m not surprised because our Valley residents are very supporting.”