Running the marathon to beat cystic fibrosis

Man runs for young Island Park victim of disease


People run the New York City Marathon for lots of reasons — to prove a point, to hone a skill, to produce a lifetime best, to push a cause and a myriad of other reasons.

Island Park resident Ray Miley, 52, who grew up in Oceanside, ran for John Byrne, 13, who is better known as JJ at the Lincoln-Orens Middle School, where he is in the eighth grade.

Byrne has Cystic Fybrosis, a debilitating disease that he was diagnosed with at a young age. CF causes him to get lots of lung infections that require constant medications such as steroids and a nebulizer treatment each day.

His mother, Tara, is a member of the Island Park school board and a friend of Miley.

She is proud that Miley will run the marathon in her son’s name and to raise awareness for CF.

“I think that he is a wonderful man and it is such an admirable thing that he is doing,” Byrne says of Miley. “He’s a big part of our community — just a humble, gentle man.”

This is Miley’s fourth New York City Marathon. He ran first in 1993 and then again the following two years. He has not run a marathon since that time, but he does run most days.

“I’m recovering from a knee injury,” he said, “but I run up to six miles a day, mostly in Norman Lent Park in Merrick. I like to run the hills there.”

He adds that Byrne is an inspiration.

“I see that John is sick a lot with his lungs and still does a lot to raise awareness about CF,” he said. “I’m healthy enough to run a marathon and have been blessed with good health. He’s such a good kid that I want to do something for him.”

As for JJ, he walked in the “Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis” in June and raised more than $5,000. In addition, he speaks to local organizations, raising awareness about his disease.

Miley said that people can learn from Byrne.

“I hope that people will learn that anything’s possible,” he said last week, just prior to the marathon. “When you’ve accomplished something, you feel like you can overcome any obstacle as long as you work hard enough. We can find a cure for CF, we just need to work hard to find the way.”