With a final memorial run this weekend, local couple is trying to raise awareness

RAISING AWARENESS–Mike and Donna Ritter have been working for the last 20 years to raise awareness and support for the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank. The couple is pictured recently at the cord blood bank with a cryostorage tank that was dedicated in their name.

Anthony Ritter was diagnosed with primitive neuroectodermal tumors when he was 13. He passed away in 1997, when he was just 14 years old.

Each year since, his parents Donna and Mike Ritter, along with the help of Lisa Durbin-Leonard, hold a memorial run in Anthony’s name. The run benefits SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medial Center, as well as raises awareness of the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank.

Over the past 19 years, over $101,000 was raised and donated to Cardinal Glennon. The goal for this year’s event is to raise $10,000.

This year, on July 15, will be the 20th and final Anthony’s Memorial Run, so the Ritters met with the North County News to discuss the run and also arranged a visit to the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank to learn more about its lifesaving mission.

Donna noted that primitive neuroectodermal tumors are usually found in very young children, aged just one to two years, but anyone at any age can get them. When Anthony was diagnosed, the condition was still fairly rare, with only 500 cases in the United States.

Most of Anthony’s treatments were done at Cardinal Glennon. While he did not receive cord blood, the Ritters learned about it and how it can help people. So they wanted to bring awareness in an effort to “help the next guy. Hopefully they won’t have to go through what we did.”

For more on this story, please see this week’s print edition.