Mary Ramba’s Gumption Earns Her Challenger Award
By SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME // November 23, 2014
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
ABOVE VIDEO: Walking around the track at Merritt Island High School, Mary Ramba encountered a man who asked her if she would like to run a marathon for charity. The fellow was Jack Kenworthy, another inductee into the 2014 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
2014 CHALLENGER INDUCTEE
Chance Encounter With Jack Kenworthy Changes Ramba’s Life – What’s A Marathon?
In 1997, Mary Ramba weighed 200 pounds and had a drinking problem.
When her son and daughter-in-law announced they were expecting a baby, Ramba was smacked in the face with the realization that she wasn’t such exceptional grandmother material at the time. She decided to take measures.
“On Cinco de Mayo that year I stopped drinking and I haven’t had a drop since,” said the Cocoa resident.
She also embarked on an extremely strict diet that dropped 80 pounds from her body.
“As I was losing weight, I knew I needed to exercise, so I started walking, because at the time I couldn’t run,” she added.
Walking around the track at Merritt Island High School, Ramba encountered a man who asked her if she would like to run a marathon for charity. The fellow was Jack Kenworthy, another inductee into the 2014 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
“I asked him what a marathon was,” said Ramba. “I had no idea.”
What the Ohio native lacked in marathon knowledge, she more than made up in gumption, and she signed up with Teams-in-Training to run the Disney Marathon which benefits cancer research.
“We started running and training and I met a lot of people involved with Space Coast Runners,” said Ramba, who has been a board member of the organization since 1998, the same year she ran the Space Coast Marathon as a prelude to the Disney Marathon in January.
Rebecca Sparks, another inductee into this year’s Hall of Fame, also helped Ramba reach her running goals
“At the time she had a running camp that helped me work up the speed,” said Ramba.
Sparks encouraged Ramba to join the board of the Space Coast Runners, which in 2008 inducted Ramba into its Hall of Fame.
FOCUSED ON THE SPIRIT OF FUNNING
At 67 and recently retired from her job at Brevard Zoo, Ramba has kept her weight down and her energy level up through running. She has run 22 marathons around the country, including the Boston Marathon. In Alaska, she ran a marathon while her “favorite and only” son ran the half-marathon.
She has scaled back to about three or four half-marathons a year, but participates in just about every 5k she sees. Husband Gene has been a staunch supporter of Ramba’s running throughout the years and often volunteers at races.
Although she has plenty of awards, Ramba is more focused on the spirit of running, for she sees herself as a cheerleader to get others off the couch.
“My goal in life is to encourage everybody, whatever their age, to find something they like and make it part of their lifestyle,” she said.
“My running job is to encourage all to get out there and exercise. I do know that not everyone is meant to run, but I do very strongly believe that everyone can choose a program of exercise that will improve his or her life. Running is the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve met some of the most wonderful people along the way. I run to be happy and healthy. That’s what it’s all about!”
THE 2014 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 9 with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m. – and dinner and ceremony at 7 p.m.
FOR INFORMATION & TICKETS to the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction dinner call 321-615-8111 or e-mail MaverickMultimedia@gmail.com