TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – You may remember Ryan and Michelle DeJong. We first introduced you to the couple a few years ago when Michelle was first diagnosed with brain cancer.
We followed her battle, especially when Ainsley’s Angels made it possible for the couple to run together by giving Michelle a chair to ride in while Ryan pushed her.
Michelle ultimately lost her battle to cancer but Sunday Ryan gave back to the community by donating a chair to Ainsley’s Angels at the 7th annual Frankenfooter race.
It wasn’t long ago that Ryan Dejong pushed his wife Michelle in a race. Now, since Michelle has passed, he wants others to get the same satisfaction that she did when she was in the chair.
“Made us feel that we were taking something back from cancer. And so I wanted to be able to be a part of that, giving that opportunity to other children and adults that may be facing some type of challenge,” said Ryan Dejong.
Saturday Ryan got to push Tiffany, a 23-year-old woman with a rare genetic disorder. It was a freeing experience for Ryan.
“The excitement of the race, getting ready to cross through the finish line together so being able to not only donate the fighter themed chair, remembering Michelle doing that but creating new memories for Tiffany this morning,” Ryan said. “It was just really awesome to be a part of that.”
It was a humbling experience for Tiffany’s mom.
“It’s great to see her be able to participate in something like this and see her be able to be a part of something that she normally wouldn’t be able to,” said Adelita O’Neal.
Michelle lived by this mantra: to not just believe there is good in the world but to be the good. That’s something Ryan strives for every day.
“I feel like today we’ve made a difference, I know we have in Tiffany’s world and mine too. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a great day,” said Dejong.