O'Malley Recovering From ROAR Injuries

Alumnus injured while raising money for Ryan T. O'Malley '99 Memorial Scholarship in Tour Divide cycling race continues to recover.
John O’Malley ’87, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Retired, pauses for a moment while riding in the wilderness.
John O’Malley ’87, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Retired, pauses for a moment while riding in the wilderness.

John O’Malley ’87, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Retired, is recovering from injuries he sustained in an accident while riding in an ultra-distance cycling race and raising money for a University memorial scholarship honoring his brother.

After riding for more than a month in the Tour Divide, a 2,745-mile cycling race from Alberta, Canada, to New Mexico, in support of the fourth Ryan O’Malley Annual Ride (ROAR), a fundraiser for the Ryan T. O’Malley ’99 Memorial Scholarship at the University, O’Malley was involved in an accident near Silver City, New Mexico, about 125 miles from the race’s finish line in the early morning hours of July 15. According to the O’Malley family, John was found by two motorists who spotted him on the side of the road and alerted the police.

According to a GoFundMe page set up by Katie O’Malley, John’s daughter, to help with their family’s medical expenses, “John was airlifted from the scene in New Mexico and taken to an intensive care unit/trauma center in El Paso, Texas.

“We have since learned that he has endured a traumatic brain injury.”

Although John can’t recall the events surrounding the accident, he publicly thanked the Silver City police officers who assisted him in a Facebook post dated July 26.

“I am most grateful for their decisiveness and professionalism as a CT scan revealed a subdural hematoma,” he wrote. “I still have no idea how nor when I sustained these injuries.

“At this point, I’m heartbroken that I didn’t finish the race, but happy to be under great care (with) a great prognosis to return soon and get ‘er done! The silver lining to all of this is that we raised over 12k for the Ryan T. O’Malley Memorial Scholarship fund at The University of Scranton allowing students in need the opportunity to get a college education.”

According to John “Jack” O’Malley, Ph.D. ’64, professor of psychology emeritus at the University and John’s father, John was transferred from the University Medical Center of El Paso to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Colorado Springs July 27, and he was released to his home in Monument, Colorado July 30, where he will continue outpatient physical therapy.

“His recovery has been remarkable!” Dr. O’Malley said. “Everyone has been so kind, and we deeply appreciate the caring and prayers.”

According to several recent Facebook posts and comments made by John and his circle of friends, he remains an inspiration to many, and he plans to dedicate himself fully to healing and recovering until he’s ready to race again.

“I’m headed back to Silver City to finish this baby!” he wrote in a Facebook comment July 30.

To follow John’s progress and learn more about the Ryan T. O’Malley Memorial Scholarship, visit this link.


On June 10, John embarked upon ROAR: The Ryan O’Malley Annual Ride for the fourth time by participating in The Tour Divide, an annual ultra-distance cycling race that sees participants traverse the length of the Rocky Mountains from Alberta, Canada, to the US/Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico, in support of the Ryan T. O’Malley ’99 Memorial Scholarship.

After Ryan's passing in 2011, his family established the scholarship in his memory to enable Computer Science students of limited resources with an interest in fitness to attend The University of Scranton. Since that time, Ryan's family and friends have raised more than $150,000 for the scholarship, much of it through ROAR: The Ryan O'Malley Annual Race, a 5K fundraising event the family organized from 2013-2017. In 2018, John embarked upon the inaugural ROAR: The Ryan O’Malley Annual Ride by cycling the 500+ miles of The Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango in Ryan’s memory. While John rode The Colorado Trail again for ROAR in 2019 and 2020, he was sidelined by injuries and knee surgery in 2021. Prior to beginning The Tour Divide, John said he was looking forward to riding for “family, community and the well-being of others.”

“I ride to remember and honor our brother, Ryan,” he said. “I ride to give back in some way to the community who nurtured us. Through the ROAR and Ryan’s scholarship, we help to provide students with limited financial resources the opportunity to attend The University of Scranton.”

John’s love of cycling and adventure began when he was growing up in the Green Ridge section of Scranton.

“Bikes were a big deal back then, and if you had one, you were a lucky kid,” he said. “ For me, the bike became an instrument of exploration, discovery and freedom.”

As the oldest child of Dr. O’Malley and his wife, Helene, John shared his love of cycling with his five siblings, especially Ryan, his youngest brother.

“As a kid, time and distance had little meaning,” he said of the hours they spent exploring the NEPA area together. “We’d just ride, inspired by the adventure and the natural beauty of the region.”

Upon graduating from the University, John began his military career in Ft. Carson, Colorado, where he started racing mountain bikes. Since then, he has continued to ride and race, competing in triathlons and adventure races throughout the country. When he and his family settled in Monument, Colorado, he became so inspired by the expanses and terrain he saw on two wheels that he proposed the idea of funding Ryan’s scholarship through an annual bike ride.

The Tour Divide

The Tour Divide follows the 2,745-mile “Great Divide Mountain Bike Route,” a 90% off-road trail that follows the Continental Divide through Alberta, British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. Established by the Adventure Cycling Association in 1998, it is considered the most important off-pavement cycling route in the world.

The Tour Divide’s race clock runs 24 hours a day, and the self-supported riders aren’t allowed any outside help other than the ability to access public facilities along the way that are available to everyone. Participating cyclists must carry their camping equipment, food and water through long stretches of remote mountain wilderness, pristine river valleys, open grassland and desert while risking injury, mechanical failure, treacherous weather and encounters with potentially dangerous wildlife.

To support the Ryan O’Malley Annual Ride and Ryan’s scholarship, visit this link.

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