Sometimes my day job is really awesome. This is one of those times. If you guys didn’t know, I work in Marketing for Chipotle Mexican Grill. Yes, I get free burritos. Yes, it’s awesome. But, then there are other perks like spending the whole day with Patient Champion, Joseph and his amazing family cheering on the runners in the Columbus Marathon.
Since 2012, The Columbus Marathon has recognized Patient Champions at 24 miles of the race. There is also an Angel Mile to honor those children who are no longer with us and one Encore Mile where they recognize all past Patient Champions. These kiddos have all received treatment in one way or another from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Each patient has a theme for the day and a sponsor to help celebrate their health and cheer on the runners throughout the morning.
Even Baby O got in on the cheering! It was hard not to be super inspired by the runners and by our Patient Champion, Joseph, and his wonderful family. We were stationed at Mile 14 which means that these amazing athletes had just finished a half marathon and were just about halfway over. I’m still amazed by the amount of runners who had a huge smile on their face as they were whipping on by us.
Most of the runners slowed to give Joseph a high five and a few guys even completely stopped running to take a picture with him. It seriously warmed my heart and I think I only cried about four times. At the beginning of each mile, there is a huge sign that shows the Patient Champion with his name and picture. The runners can also get a tattoo that lists the names of each Patient Champion and their respective mile. I just love this because so many of the runners called Joseph out by name and were genuinely thankful he showed up there to support them. Many of the 18,000 runners and walkers choose to take their involvement a step further and fundraise for Nationwide Children’s Hospital and these wonderful people are called Children’s Champions. Since 2012, the race has raised more than $5.8 Million to support life-saving research care and so much of that money has come from these amazing fundraising partners! Now, please enjoy a few photos of enthusiastic runners.
If you are wondering why Joseph is using this as a high five handle, he was actually supposed to have a giant foam finger and a few other goodies. Unfortunately, it got stolen in the early morning but that didn’t slow anyone down and he had the best morning high fiving all these athletes. This picture is my favorite! Go Anne, go! Every Patient Champion has a theme and Joseph’s was Transformers! They decided on this theme because a) Joseph loves Transformers and b) to show the transformation he’s had since his time in the NICU. Joseph was born 16 weeks early and was just 1 pound, 5 ounces when he arrived. He is currently diagnosed with Extreme Prematurity, Retinopathy of Prematurity, and Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia but man that doesn’t slow this four-year-old down. His enthusiasm and excitement for everything is infectious. I didn’t get the chance to check out any of the other miles but Joseph’s family did an amazing job with the decorations. It was a serious Transformer’s party at MIle 14. Plus, we had snacks because it’s not a party unless there are snacks.
If you have ever thought about running a half or full marathon (go you!), consider running the Columbus Marathon so you can help to raise money to support kids just like Joseph. But, for 2017, you can still donate to his campaign here! Even if you don’t run next year, I suggest heading out there to cheer on the runners, it’s truly inspiring. Finally, a big thanks to my family for coming out to support my job, Joseph, and the Columbus Marathon as a whole. It takes a village and I’m thankful to have a pretty darn good one.