Keeping Ryanne Cara’s memory alive with a ride and poker run in Sugarloaf Twp.
SUGARLOAF TWP. — A group in Luzerne County wants to remember a young girl by dedicating playgrounds in her memory. It’s because of her memory that Ryanne’s Ride & Festival will be held May 14 at LaRock Grove in Conyngham.
The Remembering Ryanne Cara Foundation was started to keep the memory of 4-year-old Ryanne Cara alive. Ryanne died in December from the rhinovirus.
“We learned that she had rhinovirus at the autopsy,” Ryanne’s mother, Vanessa, said noting her daughter showed no signs of the virus before falling ill at home.
According to Dr. Gary Lawrence, chairman of the department of pediatrics at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township, most rhinovirus infections are mild.
“Within a few weeks, your immune system fights off the virus, ending your symptoms,” Lawrence said in an email. “With plenty of rest and fluids, most people recover within 10 days.”
Ryanne and her family — Vanessa; father, Matt; sisters, Hailee, 3, and Ellena, 2 — loved to play at the Whispering Willow Park in Conyngham. It is her family’s wish that the first of the playgrounds be built there.
“Every child in every community should have a playground to call their own and a place where kids can be kids,” foundation President Brian Earley said.
One of Ryanne’s favorite things to do was to ride her purple — her favorite color — mini ATV around trails with her family.
“She was able to use it a few times (before her death),” Vanessa said.
Keith Laylo, organizer of the festival, took Ryanne’s love of the outdoors and ATVs and created the motorcycle ride, which “became incredible” as it grew into the festival and poker run on behalf of the community’s support.
“This hatched from me and Brian on the day of the funeral,” Laylo said.
There will be three arms to the day people can choose from: an ATV poker run, a motorcycle ride and the festival.
The poker run will begin at the grove at noon, traveling through the expansive acres of the donated grove. Those riding the run will collect trinkets throughout the trails to turn in for playing cards.
“The best poker hand wins,” Vanessa said.
At the same time the ATV ride is occurring, a motorcycle ride from Death Row Motorcycles in Drums will take off.
Frank Stancato, owner of Death Row Motorcycles, became involved for several reasons, most notably because he knows the family through the Valley Little League.
“The family gives a lot,” Stancato said. “(When approached about riding, I) definitely wanted to be involved.”
According to Laylo, 80 bikes are already registered and 200 to 250 bikes are expected.
“She was selfless and would be amazed (people were doing this for her),” Vanessa said.
A “mini-fair” will held throughout the day on the grounds of the Grove with tricky trays, a bounce house for kids and several craft and food vendors. The Tommy Guns Band will highlight the night from 5 to 9 p.m. after the run and ride have ended.
“All the money raised will go to the park,” Laylo said.
Little Leagues throughout the Sugarloaf Township and Conyngham areas have canceled play that day so their members can volunteer at the event.
Local businesses have also followed suit.
“Blue Ridge Polaris will be around to help fix problems (with ATVs on the poker run),” Laylo said.
Stancato said his employees will also participate during the motorcycle run.
Once the money is raised, Laylo said the Where Angels Play Foundation — created after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut — will come in to create the playground.
The foundation’s first priority will be the Whispering Willow Park but Laylo said the “foundation is for going forward, not just Conyngham, but everywhere.”
For more information, visit www.rememberingryanne.com or call 570-708-8243.
Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko
IF YOU GO
What: Ryanne’s Ride & Festival
Where: LaRock’s Grove, Sugarloaf Township
When: May 14
• ATV poker run, $25 a quad
• ATV trail ride all day, $10
• Motorcycle run, $25.00 per bike; $5.00 for passenger
Info: rememberingryanne.com or 570-708-8243