At first, Jennifer Estep returned to running simply as a way to lose weight and model a healthy lifestyle for her son. But after participating in the relay portion of the 2015 Akron Marathon as her first race since running high school cross country, she knew she was hooked.
“I loved everything about the race – the crowd, entertainment and support all along the course, from spectators and my fellow runners,” Jennifer said. “The support is something that you really can’t describe, you have to experience it. I couldn’t wait to sign up for my next race!”
Jennifer has been participating in races ever since, from 5Ks to completing three half marathons.
“When I first started I couldn’t run a mile, but I enjoyed being outside and wanted to keep going,” said Jennifer. “When my sister-in-law suggested I participate in the team relay, the 5.8 mile distance seemed impossible. But I agreed, because I knew the commitment would ensure I kept up with my training.”
This year, Jennifer is adding an additional commitment to her training for the Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon, Half Marathon & Team Relay presented by FirstEnergy as a Children’s Champion. She had heard of the program in the past, but decided to sign up and fundraise this year after being inspired on the Blue Line last year.
“Last year, during the half marathon, seeing the Champions along the course was truly inspiring to me. No matter how hard the half marathon was for me, and trust me – it was hard, it was nothing compared to what these children go through,” Jennifer said. “Yet, here they are cheering me on? And they are happy to do so! It really made me want to help out and make a difference in some small way.”
Armed with fundraising ideas and a support system of family and friends to help her reach her fundraising goal, Jennifer said she sees this as an opportunity to give back to a local organization helping her family, friends and neighbors.
“I’m thankful for my and my family’s health, but I know there are so many who are not as fortunate,” she said. “I am hopeful that the money I and the other Children’s Champions raise can make a small difference and help the children and their families in some way.”