(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) An Arlington resident will take off on a 3,000-mile cycling race from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis next week.
Frank Fumich will ride more that 250 miles a day, since the Race Across America (RAAM), one of the most grueling athletic events around even for an endurance athlete like Fumich, must be completed in 12 days.
He is doing it in the hopes of raising thousands for a local man he does not know that well, but can really use his help.
Ryan Diviney, who was born in Reston, is cared for full-time by his father, Ken, in their Ashburn home. That care costs about $2 million annually, Ken Diviney said. Much of it is paid for by the family’s insurance, but there are still tens of thousands of dollars left uncovered.
Fumich, who also attended WVU, said he heard of the Diviney’s story a little over a year ago — shortly after he raised more than $75,000 to aid victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Fumich ran 78 miles in 19 hours — representing three marathons for the three spectators who were killed on April 15, 2003. He then ran the money up to Boston.
“My plan was to run to Morgantown (W.Va.) from Northern Virginia,” said Fumich. “But it was too close to another race. But I knew I wanted to do something to help. I told Ken I was going to to the RAAM. I thought he would think I am crazy.”
Said Ken Diviney: “I did [think he was crazy].”
But he is also already very grateful.
“This helps enormously,” he said. “[The money] is a substantial amount that can help us in two ways. We put away money for Ryan’s longterm comfort and care and also help us in the short term with something he needs, like a therapeutic massaging chair.”
Fumich said Ken Diviney “has not left Ryan’s side since that day in 2009.”
In November of 2009, Ryan was a 20-year-old sophomore who had earned an academic scholarship at WVU. Ken Diviney said his son was attacked by two other men (who later served jail time for the incident), suffering a fractured skull, a broken jaw, and bleeding of the brain.
Ryan had a third of skull removed in surgery to control the brain swelling and has suffered numerous complications. He has been a vegetative state since.
Ken works with Ryan, now 25, every day to keep his body and muscles moving. he also cares for his hygiene needs and feeds him via feeding tube.
“It’s relentless,” says Ken Diviney. “It never really ends. I try to keep his body in motion six to eight hours a day.”
Fumich, a father of 5-year-old twins, says being a dad has made him more empathetic. He said taking on an athletic feat like the RAAM for a worthy cause will make the miles worthwhile.
“It feels good to help someone,” he said. “When I was reintroduced to [the Diviney’s] story from a friend, I couldn’t help but be struck hard by the difference in our lives and how just a few seconds sent our destinies in completely different directions.”
“I knew I was going to do something to help Ryan and his family, and this is it. Every time I hit “the wall” and feel the urge to quit, I’m going to think of how hard Ryan has continued to fight, and how hard his dad Ken and family continue to push onward.”