By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
Probably very few days go by that you don’t read or hear disturbing news of people victimizing others. This story, too, begins with an unthinkably brutal attack on innocent people, and the story is heart-wrenching. However, it has resulted in many “good” people stepping up to the plate to help. One such giving person is Frank Fumich.
Frank and his family live in Arlington, VA. His mother, the late Marie Musci Fumich, grew up in Clarksburg, where his grandmother, 101-year old Genevieve Musci, still resides. Frank’s father, the late George Fumich, hailed from Morgantown. Although not a Mountain State native, Frank chose to go to WVU. And perhaps that is why this story grabbed his attention.
Five years ago, it made national news when a group of intoxicated students attacked two young men on their way to a convenience store in Morgantown. One of the victims was Ryan Diviney, a WVU student. Ryan’s injuries were severe.
Ryan’s father describes his son as a once very popular guy … a tremendous athlete … a Dean’s List and President’s List student who carried a 3.8 GPA. Ryan was all about fairness and aspired to someday be a judge.
The Diviney’s were awakened at 4 a.m. in November of 2009 with a call from Ruby Memorial Hospital. Ryan had been found unresponsive in a parking lot and was in ICU with head injuries. One witness described the incident, saying that as he was kicked in the head, it was comparable to punting a football! Ryan’s condition was so poor that doctors asked how far the family wanted to go to keep him alive. Ryan’s father Ken said it was an easy choice to make because they had had this discussion one time and Ryan had said, “Do everything you possibly can.”
Now, five years later, Ryan is 25 years old and is cared for primarily by his father, who quit his job to take care of Ryan while his wife works and travels with her job.
Ken’s work with Ryan is never-ending. His day begins at 5:30 a.m. when he wakes Ryan and puts him in a sealed chamber for hyperbaric oxygen therapy for about 90 minutes. This process promotes healing from various injuries and other health problems marked by decreased oxygen supply. Constant oral care and eye care is given throughout the day along with music and tactile stimulation and physical exercises, and this continues until around 11 p.m. Having lots of special equipment in their home is a necessity, and unfortunately insurance doesn’t cover a lot of it. That is where giving people have become a blessing to the Diviney family.
Frank Fumich had no connection with the Diviney family, but being touched by the story, he e-mailed Ryan’s father offering to help. He has since visited the Diviney home, met Ryan and his father and has seen first-hand just how much is required to care for Ryan.
Frank Fumich describes himself as “no one special”, yet not too often does a stranger voluntarily get so involved in helping others. Frank has owned his own business, an airline catering company that does business in Charlotte, Philadelphia and the DC area, for the past 15 years. His business is thriving, but he still manages to balance his work life with family life and extensive physical training.
Frank is an avid runner, and following the tragic Boston Marathon incident a few years ago, Frank participated in three marathons to raise money for the Boston Marathon victims. With money he raised, he decided it might be a good idea to actually “run” the donation to Boston! This he did, and it drew so much attention that it raised even more money. Frank presented victims and their families with $75,000!
“I am just a totally average guy,” he said. “I’m not really fast; I am just a stubborn person who won’t quit! I don’t necessarily win, but I won’t give up. I guess I would call myself an ‘ultra endurance athlete’.”
Frank will participate in Race Across America which begins next Tuesday, June 16th. He will cycle 3,020 miles in 12 days! The race begins in Oceanside, CA and ends in Annapolis, MD. The best part is, Frank doesn’t even enjoy cycling that much; he’s mainly a runner
“I am cycling for Ryan. Some participants will have a cause; others don’t. Some participate as a relay team and they can take a break during the course of the race. I’ll be doing this solo,” he explained, “and I’m hoping that my efforts will make a difference to Ryan’s family.”
Some of the Diviney family’s friends have also held fund-raisers such as hosting a golf tournament, a small race, or perhaps a benefit dinner. But this is something on a much larger scale … and it is an effort from someone who was a stranger up until recently.
Frank continued, “I’m trying to create attention and shine a spotlight on this family. Sometimes people are more motivated to donate when they see someone going to such great lengths to benefit someone else.”
Frank noted that Ryan’s care runs close to two million dollars a year. “Lots of machines and equipment are needed for Ryan’s care and the family pays for a lot of things out of pocket. I guess this story touched me so deeply because I am a father of twin five-year old daughters myself, and I admire and respect what this father is doing for his son so much, I want to help and perhaps inspire others to help them as well.”
While other fathers will be celebrating Father’s Day next weekend with their own families, Frank Fumich will be in the midst of a coast to coast cycling event to help another father care for his son.
“After meeting them, I see that Ken Diviney puts on a very brave face, but it’s a daily struggle, and I saw for myself how tough it is for him. My race for Ryan and his family is not a selfish pursuit; it’s a very worthy cause. But at the same time I’ll certainly be testing my limits to see what I’m made of.”
To watch the video of Ken Diviney and his son Ryan, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWwgNO7W7-o. And anyone who might be moved to help, donations can be made by visiting Frankfumich.com; click on “Current Charities”.