You don't have to have superpowers to be a superhero.

Last December 5th, a good friend of mine sent me an e-mail.  In it was a link to a news report, and the report’s message was about a fatal motor vehicle accident that had occurred in Tolland the night before.  My friend noted that the driver (who had died) was a close friend of his son.  I clicked on the link, and was horrified to discover that not only did I know exactly who it was, but he was also the son of very close friends of ours.  The young man was Ryan VerNooy, and he was only 23.  The VerNooys were one of the families we were introduced to not long after moving to Oxford, and we came to know them quite well while part of a couples group that alternated dinners each month at one another’s houses.  Dave and Nancy are remarkable, caring, committed and loving people, and they raised three children who have all shown the same wonderful traits. 

Ryan was a doer and a leader; president of his college fraternity, black belt in karate and EMT.  He was involved in his college and community, and well known for the concern and compassion he showed others.  Attending the memorial service for Ryan and trying to keep my composure was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life.  It is always sad to hear about the loss of a young life, and even more so when that life was just beginning to blossom into its full potential.  At the service, his parents, brother, and sister spoke with incredible eloquence about their son and brother, and talked about is overriding passion for superheroes.  Many of us (guys, at least) share this fascination when we are young.  Most of us leave the passion behind as we grow older, even if we never completely forget the feeling.  Ryan did not, and his love for Superman was renowned.

So it is fitting that his friends have gotten together and organized the ‘’ in his memory, to be held this Saturday, Sept. 17th at 8:30am starting at Colonial Tavern, 24 Hawley Road. As their message says, “You don’t have to have superpowers to be a superhero”.  Proceeds benefit the Hole in the Wall Gang camp.  Ryan may never have realized it, but he was a superhero.  I invite and urge all of you to join with his family and friends on Saturday morning to honor the memory of a very special young man, and the everyday superheroes hidden among us everywhere.

You can register at hitekracing.com/ryansuperherorun, or just show up that morning.

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Paul Singley September 15, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Well said, Joe.
Stephen C. Brown September 19, 2011 at 10:28 AM
It was a very fitting tribute to a young man who clearly touched so many in his short life. His family and friends gave a great gift to the town of Oxford and allowed many of us to be doers in his memory. Now, if they could just find a course for next year that isn't uphill half the way. Then again, without the hills, it wouldn't be Oxford.
MIchael Macchio September 20, 2011 at 03:20 AM
Our prayers are with him and his family.


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