By Justin Wier
Ryan Sheridan has gone to extreme lengths to raise money for the Rich Center for Autism.
In January, Sheridan climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, and raised $6,000 for the Rich Center.
In July, he plans to travel to Pamplona, Spain, for the annual Running of the Bulls.
The bull run takes place during the San Fermin festival, which is from July 6-14. Each morning beginning July 7, a crowd of participants runs slightly more than a half-mile with six bulls.
“It looks really exciting,” Sheridan said. “I like excitement. ... Doing things that other people won’t do is exciting.”
Sheridan enjoys skydiving and mountain climbing. When he spoke to The Vindicator, he was on his way to Easter Island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean to run a marathon.
Between 50 and 100 people are injured in the Running of the Bulls each year. Despite his thrill-seeking nature, Sheridan said he’s not a man without fear.
“I’m definitely scared,” he said. “But that’s part of the excitement. It really is.”
Sheridan owns Braking Point Recovery Center in Austintown, which provides addiction treatment. He said one of the doctors there first mentioned wanting to run with the bulls.
“It’s kind of a funny story,” Sheridan said. “I looked it up, and said, ‘I’m definitely going to do it.’ And he said, ‘I can’t do it. My wife would kill me.’”
He decided to go it alone, and he said since it’s definitely going to happen, he figured he would use it as a fundraising opportunity.
“One of the things I don’t like hearing in our area is when we talk about nonprofits, people say, ‘Well, who are they?’” Sheridan said. “Little things like this might raise awareness.”
After a fundraiser last year, Sheridan had the opportunity to tour the Rich Center. He said he was extremely impressed, especially by the teacher-to-student ratio.
Melanie Carfolo, executive director at the Rich Center, said she’s happy Sheridan has decided to help raise funds for her organization.
“We can literally say he will travel to the ends of the earth to raise awareness and raise funds for the Rich Center,” she said.
With Mount Kilimanjaro, he set his sights high, aiming to raise $30,000. He actually raised about $6,000. This time, he’s set a goal of $5,000 and hopes to exceed it.
Despite falling short of his ambitious goal, Carfolo said his advocacy for the Rich Center has been an asset.
“He’s generating a lot of attention and excitement with every endeavor he takes on,” she said. “I think it’s just incredible.”
Sheridan has some other adventures planned for the next few years, and he’s reaching out to other organizations that benefit children to see if they are interested in similar fundraising efforts.
“Hopefully, this will be just one of many,” he said. “I told my daughter something the other day: ‘If you’re not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting yours.’”
Those interested in donating can contribute to the Rich Center directly at www.richcenter.org or through Gofundme at www.gofundme.com/ryan-sheridans-run-with-the-bulls.