26 Tips in 26 Days. Tip #11: Gather Inspiration from Our Spirit Award Winners

Tip11SpiritAwardWinners.pngAs we put the final preparations in place for this year’s race, we’re sharing “26 Tips in 26 Days” to make sure you’re ready to go on race day. Click here to read them all, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon will spotlight 10 runners and walkers out of a field of 18,000 who have overcome enormous obstacles to train for and participate in the marathon or ½ marathon. These people have been given the title of Spirit Award winners and will be recognized at a VIP reception and at the start line. Following are their stories – we hope you are as inspired as we are by them!

Chrissie Lukuch Antonoplos, Blacklick, Ohio

chrissie-3Chrissie is celebrating the 13.1-year anniversary of having open-heart surgery from a congenital heart defect by competing in her first 1/2 marathon.  A long supporter of heart warriors and their families, Chrissie is a champion of the Beads of Courage program (an arts-in-medicine supportive care program for children coping with serious illness), volunteers with the Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities and is using her talents as a cupcake artist to raise money as a Children’s Champion.  Never considering herself a victim, Chrissie is always looking for ways to support others and does so with a huge smile on her face (and often a cupcake in her hands).

Richard Dickerman, Churubusco, Indiana


Two years ago, Richard “Dick” Dickerman was 80+ lbs. heavier and ran a 13:40 minute mile.  Following his participation in Fort Wayne’s Smallest Winner program (a 12-week program where 25 people have an opportunity to change their lifestyle through professional training and expert nutritional assistance), Dick lost 57 lbs. and participated in his first 10K in 1:15.  Today, Dick can run a mile in 7:25 minutes. Along with the pounds, he shed his introverted and self-conscious self and is now confidently participating in his first marathon at age 60.  Anyone who can transform themselves inside and out like Dick has deserves to be recognized.


Jeff Dodge, Marysville, Ohio 



In 2015 a health scare caused Jeff to take charge of his health for himself and his family.  By changing his diet and adding exercise to his life—first walking, then biking and then running.  Jeff used running as his vessel to a healthier version of himself and participated in his first 10K this past June.  He will participate in his first full marathon on Oct. 16—healthy, happy and determined.



Laura Fitzpatrick, Columbus, Ohio


Laura is running this year in memory of her son Judah.  Judah was a patient at Nationwide Children’s Hospital who suffered from cancer and passed away last September at 26 months of age.  Last year, Laura cheered on the runners at the Angel Mile (mile #11 of the course) in honor of Judah.  This year, she will run her first marathon with each mile representing the precious months Judah was alive.



Susan Hardt, Mars, Pennsylvania


Susan has suffered from osteoarthritis for more than 30 years and three years ago was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, which led to a hip replacement surgery.  Known for always pushing her limits, Susan would not let any of her physical limitations interrupt her passion for running.  Susan is running this year’s 1/2 marathon with her new hip and proving that nothing will get in her way of doing what she loves.


Rachel Mathewson, Bluffton, OH

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Rachel is no stranger to running but her training came to a halt a few years ago when, after escaping an abusive relationship, she found herself raising her young daughter alone, and put her running aside. Frustrated by her health and weight gain, she laced up her running shoes in January of this year and lost 50 lbs. and became the much-loved long distance coach of the Lima Striders (a local community youth track and field team).  She is a hands-on coach who encourages and motivates.  Rachel lives to run and spreads that joy to children!

Stephanie Orwick, Randolph, Ohio

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A rapid weight gain of 50 lbs. and severe exhaustion in 2012 led to a diagnosis of a pituitary gland tumor near Stephanie’s brain.  The tumor produced high levels of hormones and impaired her health.  Stephanie began treatment and used running as her main form of exercise to lose the weight gain caused by the tumor.  While preparing to run in her second 1/2 marathon this spring, doctors discovered that one of her hormone levels was dangerously low before the race and suggested she might not be able to participate.  Not one to ever give up, Stephanie received a hormone injection the evening before; and the morning of the race she was given the green light to run.  Through running and her dedication, Stephanie inspires others and raises awareness about pituitary adenomas.

Kathy Peterson, Ashtabula, Ohio

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Kathy is a smart, funny and legally blind champion who ran her first 1/2 marathon this spring.  Each September, she hosts a local race to raise money for The Race to Cure Blindness, a fundraising program where participants utilize a marathon, triathlon, bike race, or other racing event as a platform to raise money for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Kathy is participating in her first full marathon .

David Tischler. Clyde, Ohio

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Dave was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis or AS (a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine) when he was in high school.  Three years ago, Dave’s health was also plagued with high blood pressure and cholesterol, along with being insulin dependent and overweight.  Since then, Dave lost 50 lbs. and no longer needs insulin.  He ran his first 1/2 marathon in December of 2015 and will run in the full marathon in Columbus.  Dave is committed to sharing how people with AS can run and be healthy.

Nathan Wintringer, Orchard Park, New York


Nathan is the father of Ella, a miracle mile patient, and husband to Jamie.  Jamie is an avid runner who runs to raise awareness for her daughter’s medical condition and gives Ella her medals to award her for her bravery, strength and resilience.  This year, Jamie is unable to run because of recent ankle reconstruction surgery.  This is where Spirit Award winner, Nathan comes in.  Nathan, who admits to not especially enjoying, running, will participate in this year’s full marathon for his daughter and wife.  Training injuries aside, Nathan is determined to cross the finish line and put his medal on his daughter, Ella.


Please ask any questions in the comment section below. You’re also welcome to connect with the marathon team on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.













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