St. Vincent lacrosse player puts in work to raise money for cancer research

Doug Gulasy
| Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Ryan Riesmeyer felt firsthand the helplessness that can come after a family member is diagnosed with cancer.

So when the St. Vincent College men's lacrosse player and 2010 Franklin Regional graduate found out about an opportunity to help out in another way, he took the chance.

The Bearcats competed in the fourth annual Fall College Lacrosse Showcase last month in Chesterland, Ohio. The event, hosted by Burning River Lacrosse, raises money for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research. Riesmeyer took St. Vincent's participation in the fundraiser a step further. He designed the Bearcats' tournament uniforms — shorts, T-shirts and pinneys that incorporated pink for breast cancer research — and sold them to the St. Vincent men's and women's lacrosse teams and student body, donating the $1,500 profit at the tournament.

“When I heard it was a breast cancer tournament (and) not just a tournament in general, I thought it would be nice to contribute to a good cause,” Riesmeyer said. “My one (cousin's wife) is affected by cancer. She doesn't have breast cancer, but cancer's cancer. I thought it would be nice to do something because I know what it's like to have a family affected by cancer.”

Riesmeyer said his cousin's wife, who had leukemia, is now stable.

In recent years, the St. Vincent men's lacrosse team didn't participate in any fall tournaments. The players asked coach Peter Tulk to find a tournament for this year, and his research turned up the Fall College Lacrosse Showcase.

The showcase brought together 11 teams, including The College of Wooster, Hiram College, Kenyon College, Lake Erie College, Mercyhurst, Ohio Wesleyan, Seton Hill, St. Vincent, University of Detroit Mercy, Walsh University, Washington & Jefferson and Wittenberg University.

Tickets sold from the event went toward the Spielman fund. In total, the tournament raised $17,000.

“You kind of feel helpless with (a family member's cancer diagnosis),” Riesmeyer said. “But one of the things you can do is just help people who have this knowledge to go fix it. I'm not a doctor, but if I know someone who's trying to help cure it, I'll be all for it. Seeing (my cousin's wife) and talking to her, she was sick. And I felt helpless.”

Riesmeyer said he originally planned to sell the gear only to men's and women's lacrosse players at St. Vincent. But when some of his teammates wore the T-shirts around campus, members of the student body showed interest.

“My team was really supportive with it,” he said. “If I couldn't initially have gotten them all on board, I don't think it would have gone as well.”

Riesmeyer ended up spending eight hours over two days in the St. Vincent student center selling T-shirts. In total, he sold 181 T-shirts, 45 pinneys and 30 pairs of shorts.

“My first calculations was between the boys and girls team, forecasting I would get $500. I (thought), ‘Yeah, $500's a good goal,'” Riesmeyer said. “And then all of a sudden more people started, and then it went up to $800. I (thought), ‘If I reach out a little more, I can probably get to $1,000.' And then here I ended up with $1,500. I was thoroughly amazed and just really appreciative of how much we raised.”

While Riesmeyer's work helped make St. Vincent the top donor among competing teams at the lacrosse showcase, he made sure the donation stayed low-key.

“I just handed (the check) to the head guy (at the tournament) because you don't really need to be put on a stage for an act like that,” he said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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