The assignment at a Magna training retreat in February 2015 was simple: think about creating balance and growth in your life, and then write a letter to your “future self” and describe what you would be doing.
Ryan Dwornik, the manufacturing manager at Magna’s Norplas Industries in Northwood, Ohio wrote “run a 5K with my wife someday.”
“At the time, I couldn’t run a mile,” he recalled. “But I started training and I ran the race with my wife and two of my six kids. I finished near the end of the pack, but I finished.”
It was a humble beginning for the man who would become the impetus for Magna and thousands of its employees walking or running six kilometers in World Vision’s Global 6K challenge to bring clean water to communities in need. 6K refers to the average distance people in developing countries walk to get water.
With the help of the Magna Matching Program, the company has raised almost $900,000 in the past three years as thousands of employees across the globe participate in the event.
Dwornik’s commitment to exercise and charity started with baby steps and turned into great strides.
His first 5K propelled him into what he calls the “physical, mental and spiritual endeavor” of participating in grueling Ironman Triathlons, one of the most difficult one-day sporting events. They include a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile run. He recently completed his fifth one.
Along the way, Dwornik became familiar with World Vision, a global humanitarian organization. He used his Ironman events to begin fundraising for World Vision, setting an initial individual goal of $5,000. Eventually, he would personally raise $77,500.
“Prior to that, my only fundraising was for my kids’ sports teams,” he said. “But then, I asked myself, ‘why do I have to settle for $5,000?’ I started talking to people who think big.”
He contacted Magna Exteriors Global President Grahame Burrow in a 2016 email and told him: “I want to reach $25,000.” Burrow responded: “Why not $100,000?” and became so personally invested in the fundraising initiative that he created a video message inviting all Magna employees to take part.
Dwornik calls that “the power of connecting with people.”
“This has taught me the impossible is possible,” he said. “I believe it because I’ve lived it. Whenever I’m at work and we’re trying to overcome an obstacle, I say ‘who do we have to connect and collaborate with to find the answer?’ It’s about having the hope and the vision to take on whatever obstacle is put in front of us.”
In 2020, Dwornik wants to continue to grow Magna’s participation in the 6K challenge, aiming for 10,000 participants.
He also made the cut and will participate in the Tokyo Marathon in March, one of the world’s most exclusive races. It will share some of the same routes as the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and is shaping up as a major accomplishment for someone who said “70-year-olds were passing me in some of my early races.”
“It’s beyond what my dreams were,” Dwornik said. “It’s pretty epic.”
“I truly admire Ryan’s passion for achieving his personal goals and translating his efforts into fundraising for communities in need. And when you multiply his efforts through the commitment of our employees around the globe the outcome is incredible. With a compelling vision and motivated team working toward a common goal, there is no limit to what we can achieve!”
President, Magna Exteriors