On October 19, there will be 18,000 people with 18,000 stories to share about why they are running or walking the course’s 13.1/26.2 miles. Some will be achieving a life-long fitness goal, some will be retaining tradition by running the Columbus Marathon for the 35th time and thousands of others will celebrate the triumph of mind, body and spirit that has come through training for this year’s race.
Since 2007, the Columbus Marathon and ½ Marathon has recognized individuals who have overcome major obstacles while training. The Spirit Award is given to those whose strength; dedication and perseverance motivate us, inspire us and oftentimes, moves us to joyful tears.
Though there are 18,000 stories to share, we will share those of this year’s Spirit Award winners in our blog through the next few weeks. If you see them at the race, give them a high five!
Jeff Berringer, Marion, Ohio
A lot can happen in a year. Just ask Jeff Berringer. Last fall, at age 55, Jeff weighed 280 lbs. and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, diabetes and high blood pressure. He made a pledge to get healthy and started walking, biking and swimming with a goal of running the ½ Marathon this year. After completing his four 5K races this spring, Jeff is ready to show how he has taken control of his health and is running the ½ Marathon 130 lbs. lighter than last fall. Jeff is an inspiration to the students and his co-workers at Marion City Schools. A lot can happen in a year!
Sarah Cawley, Medina, OH
Sarah is a busy working mom to two daughters, Addie and Meghan. Meghan has had a long list of significant impairments as a result of a long list of medical issues: hydrocephalus (a buildup of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling), Klippel-Feil syndrome (abnormal joining of two or more spinal bones in the neck), severe scoliosis, kidney problems and a heart defect. Sarah, a runner, has run the Nationwide Children’s Marathon the past several years in Meghan’s honor declaring, “My goal is to run this ½ marathon every year until Meghan can walk, or I can’t.” Her tireless dedication is worthy enough of the Spirit Award; however Sarah’s story doesn’t end here. In April, Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is now undergoing chemotherapy and expects to begin radiation treatments about two weeks before the race, but she is continuing with her training while dealing with the physical effects of her treatment. Sarah is determined to complete the race again this year in spite of the tremendous obstacles she is fighting to overcome. She is “training for triumph” – Meghan’s and hers.
Janna Driscoll, Westerville, Ohio
Anyone who says they do not have time for physical fitness needs to meet Janna Driscoll. Janna first joined a walking group to help her lose weight. In May of 2013 she walked her first ½ marathon. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Following surgery to remove her thyroid, her cancer treatment consisted of radiation and medication. The medications Janna took left her exhausted and with flu-like symptoms. Janna has not let the side effects of her medication or her demanding 80-hour/week work schedule derail her from her training and gym routine so that she can participate in this year’s ½ marathon. Janna’s determination and commitment is an inspiration to everyone who knows her.