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 unfortunately can’t 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!
Jenn Smiechowski, Westerville, Ohio
Jenn began running in 2012, after the birth of her son, and participated in several half marathons and the Columbus Marathon in 2013. The birth of her daughter prevented her from participating in the 2014 Columbus Marathon but she resumed her mileage as soon she was able. This spring, near the end of a training run, she experienced dizziness, chest pain and shortness of breath and was rushed to the ER where she was found to be in a life threatening arrhythmia. She recovered but received the diagnosis of a rare progressive heart disease known as ARVD (Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia) which meant that she could no longer participate in distance running or competitive sports. Jenn instead will walk the 1/2 marathon this year, with her husband to support her friends who are running and advocate heart health awareness for runners.
Terence Tobias, Columbus, OH
Terence is a member of Columbus Sole, a running group made up of the male residents of the downtown YMCA. The mission of the team is to empower the residents through running by providing the opportunity to commit to a goal, experience accomplishment, build trust in others and connect to their community. Terence, along with the other members of the team, has faced many obstacles in life. Yet, despite setbacks, these men come out to practice every Monday and Thursday, work hard and bond with individuals they may have never gotten a chance to meet otherwise. Terence is a leader within the group. He promotes camaraderie, team unity, hard work and dedication to accomplishing goals. Terence set the goal to train and complete a marathon by the end of the season. With guidance from YMCA volunteers, Terence was able to make a training plan, incorporate healthy eating habits and set realistic pace goals. He recently ran and completed the Dublin Emerald City Half Marathon run in 2:10, which is a significant accomplishment for someone who could barely run a mile when Columbus Sole first started over two years ago. His dedication to this goal has been nothing short of inspiring and motivational for the rest of the team.