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Sammy's Run to hit the streets for a final time in Lakewood Ranch

The race is in its eighth year raising awareness about Phelan-McDermid Syndrome while raising money for a wheelchair bicycle.

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For the last 15 to 20 yards before the finish line, Lakewood Ranch's Ricardo Lomas helps his son, Sammy Lomas, out of the wheelchair bicycle and walks with him to the finish line. 

People cheer for them as they complete Sammy's Run, an annual 5K that honors of Sammy Lomas. 

Lakewood Ranch's Sue and Ricardo Lomas started Sammy's Run to spread awareness about son Sammy's syndrome, Phelan-McDermid Syndrome.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer

"(Sammy Lomas) hears that and feels that, so he's happy," Ricardo Lomas said. "It's a great moment."

Ricardo and Sammy Lomas are looking forward to crossing the finish line of Sammy's Run for the eighth and final time May 25. 

Ricardo Lomas and his wife, Sue Lomas, started Sammy's Run in 2009 in honor of their son, who has Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. 

Sammy's Run includes a 5K run or walk, a mile fun run or walk and kids dashes. There is also an option to participate in the race virtually.

The race not only spreads awareness about Sammy Lomas' genetic disorder, but it also serves as a fundraiser to purchase adaptive sports equipment for individuals with disabilities.

This year, Ricardo Lomas hopes Sammy's Run can raise the $8,000 needed to purchase a wheelchair bicycle for a girl with special needs. 

Riding in his wheelchair bicycle with his father pushing him while running is Sammy Lomas' favorite activity, Ricardo Lomas said. 

Ricardo Lomas recalled when someone donated a wheelchair bicycle to his family. They were previously using a large baby jogger and considering taking out a loan to be able to buy the wheelchair bicycle. 

The wheelchair bicycle allowed Sammy Lomas to continue enjoying his favorite activity. 

"We know how it felt for us to receive it and the enjoyment he gets from it, so we love to pass this on to other families," Ricardo Lomas said. "Once we tell them they've been selected, we can feel the enjoyment they're getting and going to get. Now they're able to do something outdoors with their child they weren't able to do before. It's a great feeling."

For the last 15 to 20 yards, Sammy Lomas walks with his dad, Ricardo Lomas, across the finish line.
Courtesy image

But with fewer sponsors and runners, Ricardo Lomas said it's getting more difficult to raise the money needed. 

Logistical challenges and Sammy Lomas' declining health are causing the Lomas family to make this year's run the last. Ricardo Lomas said his son, who turned 30 on May 7, has been experiencing more seizures. 

He said the race has to compete against the numerous other races being held for sponsorships, and people are being selective in the races in which they choose to participate. 

Ricardo Lomas said the cost of putting on a race has increased between the increased cost for shirts, medals, police presence and more.

On top of that, Lakewood Ranch has become busier, which makes it harder to create a route that will be safe for runners. 

"There's just more traffic, and it's difficult to find or keep the same route we've been using," Ricardo Lomas said. "If we were to continue, we'd have to go somewhere else, but right now, everybody's going over to (Nathan Benderson Park) but it's not something that's going to work out for us."

The race starts and finishes on Health Park Way near Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and continues down Town Center Parkway before the turnaround near Manor Loop. 

Sammy's Run is an opportunity for the Lomas family to reunite with families they haven't seen in a while. 

Since Sammy Lomas graduated from Oak Park School in Sarasota in 2015, the race helps the Lomas family reconnect with the other students and their families who were there at the same time as Sammy Lomas. 

The race also connects the Lomas family with other families who have individuals with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome. 

"It's like a little family reunion," Ricardo Lomas said. 



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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