There is a story to share about each of the 19,000 runners and walkers participating in this year’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon and ½ Marathon. Many have overcome physical and emotional challenges to be part of this year’s event. While we are unfortunately unable to share every story, we want to spotlight this year’s Spirit Award winners. The Spirit Award is awarded annually to ten individuals who demonstrate perseverance and dedication. During the weeks leading up to this year’s marathon and ½ marathon, we will be sharing their stories of inspiration and spirit.
Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees!
Justin Thomas, Roaming Shores, Ohio
Justin is competing in his first half marathon this year with a goal of 1:13 or better. Justin’s journey began in 2004 when he was in a tragic car accident when he dislocated his hip, suffered spine injuries and severe lacerations, resulting in eight surgeries in 3 days. His journey back to running was long and difficult and included 15 more surgeries and severe pain. Still, Justin with encouragement from his wife and best friend, Justin went on to qualify and participate in the Boston Marathon. According to Justin, “It’s not the overall time that makes one special, not the speed, or even the endurance. It’s not the glory of victory or even the agony of defeat. At the end of the day, YOU and only you make yourself special. There is always a finish line in the distance. You may not always see the finish line, but keep pushing, and I promise, your legs and heart will find it.”
Andrea and Alyson Hoffman, Marion, Ohio
Andrea and Alyson are twins with cystic fibrosis and are patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. They are running the 1/2 marathon this year to prove how important exercise is to those living with cystic fibrosis. The girls endure daily regiments of more than 30 pills a day, nutritional supplements, inhaled medications, and 80 minutes each day on the Vest which provided air way clearance. The girls have seen improvements in their health by taking one step at a time. TEAM HEAL (Hoffmans Exercising Adding Life) is raising money for the estimated one million children who will walk through NCH this year.