The Dedication of Ryan Shay Design Center


As most of our readers remember, Ryan Shay was running the Olympic Trials marathon in Central Park when he collapsed and subsequently died at the age of 28. A former US marathon champion, and an NCAA champion, Ryan was one of the most popular members of the moving road show called the elite running community. He was also sponsored by Saucony.

Ryan was involved with the Saucony brand. He had spent time with the design team, cajoling them and encouraging them to develop a new cross country shoe. Upon his untimely death, the management at Saucony, from Richie Woodworth, President to Tom Carleo, Senior VP of Product, to Sharon Barbano, VP, Public Relations, considered the following question: how to memorialize an young athlete who had made such a footprint at Saucony?

In honor of the late Ryan Shay, Saucony, the company that sponsored Ryan in the last few years of his life, dedicated a portion of its new product and design center in his honor. The Ryan Shay Design center was dedicated on Thursday, April 17, 2008, with the tape cut by Alicia Shay, the widow of Ryan and Tom Carleo, Senior VP of Product at Saucony, in a touching and thoughtful ceremony.

In honor of Ryan's concern for other athletes, Alicia Shay established the Ryan Shay Memorial Fund. The fund will help disadvantaged individuals, groups and communities as well as distance runners who may need financial assistance. " Ryan was concerned about runners who had no sponsorship like we do with Saucony. How do they get insurance? How do they pay the rent? " Alicia is looking at developing an advisory council to assist her in developing the Ryan Shay Memorial Fund's distribution and programs further. Saucony has announced that they would donate $20,000 to get the fund off the ground. ( To make a donation, please send donations to Alicia Shay, 780 Ponderosa Parkway, Flagstaff, Arizona 86001).

The ceremony announcing the Ryan Shay Memorial Fund, the Ryan Shay Design Center and the unveiling of the Shay XC (available in June 2008) was done on the Stride Rite campus in Lexington, MA.

The Shay XC shoe features a track spike upper with a cross country racing plate. The colors are ultramarine blue with yellow. The shoe will be distributed widely and will be used to showcase Saucony's continued support of grass roots running, especially young runners in cross country and spring track & field.

Alicia Shay, showing composure that most of us could not even consider in her situation, spoke of Ryan and his love of life and passion for living and running. She told the assembled media about her training in Flagstaff, Arizona, the support of that community and of her intention to run the 10,000 meters at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford in early May. She will pursue the 10,000 meters at the US Olympic Trials in July 2008. " Ryan believed in my running and felt that I could do so much more, so I am running to honor him and see where I can go," noted Shay. Alicia graduated from Stanford, with two NCAA 10,000 meter titles and the NCAA record for 10,000 meters.

" Whey we were thinking about a permanent way to honor Ryan, it became clear that the inspiration he brough to the product creation team was to be enduring,"noted Richie Woodworth, president of Saucony. Gregg Ribbatt, President and CEO of The Stride Rite corporation, spoke eloquently of the loss sustained by the Shay family and Saucony and spoke of the loss of his sister in his late teens. (Gregg and his wife are running the Boston Marathon this year, Ribbatt is a veteran marathoner).

The ceremony for Ryan was held in the atrium of the Stride Rite headquarters and close to 100 Saucony associates, all with red sweatshirts on, rang cowbells, as Saucony fans do at races, as a final honor to Ryan Shay.

In the end, it was a fitting, but sobering tribute to a man lost so early in his life. That his family was here, and his extended family at Saucony showed so much care and respect for his standards and his passions showed how much he truly affected others.

" It is necessary to dig deep within oneself to discover that hidden grain of steel.. called will." noted Ryan Shay in life. The Ryan Shay Design Center, the Ryan Shay Memorial Fund and the Shay XC are tributes to a young runner, lost, but who stays alive in our memories....

To see more on Ryan Shay, please click:

Leave a comment

Wake up to RunBlogRun's news in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter and we'll keep you informed about the Sport you love.

Subscribe to RunBlogRun's Global News Feed

* indicates required