Meet the 2015 Spirit Award Winners!

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!

 Sonya team danny

Sonya Rae Evans, West Union, OH

In the spring of 2012, Sonya started having what she thought were minor health issues, being treated for sinus and allergy issues. When antibiotics did not help (numerous times) and the symptoms started interfering with her breathing, she was referred to a pulmonologist.  She was told that it was not lung related and that she “looked too healthy” to have a lung disorder. Although she still felt something was wrong (due to her increased shortness of breath), she continued on with her daily life and exercise regimen of Zumba, Yoga, and, of course, running.  She even competed in the distance run in Charleston, WV on September 1, 2012—a complicated 15 mile run.

In January 2013, on her 43rd birthday, Sonya learned she had stage 3, non-small cell lung cancer.  Sixteen months after completing her radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Sonya ran in the 2014 Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati.  Sonya’s tumor has stopped growing but it is inoperable.  She attributes her determination and strength to God and God’s healing powers.  According to her nomination, “Sonya sees the world with such gratitude and grace and is an inspiration to all who know her.”


Rachel Schade, Delaware, OH

Rachel is participating in her first half marathon shortly over a year after enduring tragic loss. Rachel was in her mid-20s with an English degree and a part-time job and was living with a roommate when her parents died in an accident. As the oldest of three children in her family, Rachel assumed responsibility for her youngest sibling who was just beginning his senior year of high school. Rachel selflessly knew what she had to do- she got a full-time job at a daycare to give herself and her brother benefits. Additionally, she and her roommate moved into a bigger apartment so he could have his own room and homeschooled him through his senior year.  This fall, her brother started college. While Rachel had a good support group of close friends as well as family in other states, she has persevered and through it all is determined to run her first half marathon on Oct. 18.


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