“I run in 5k races all the time, but I needed something that would really motivate me,” said Erik Ricci of Springfield Township. “My son, Joey, is my inspiration for everything I do so a race that supports the hospital that supports him is exactly what I needed.”
The self-proclaimed ‘gym guy,’ doesn’t enjoy running, but has found running to be a great outlet for fitness and raising money for causes he believes in. He’s participated in about 25 5k runs over the years, but this year will be his first time running in the Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series.
“This is my first attempt at running this race and these distances,” said Erik. “I’m actually training for the races, which I’ve never done before. I work out at the gym, ride a bike and do a little cardio, but nothing to the extent that training for these races is putting me through.”
Erik’s motivation is and remains Joey, who was born with a type of mitochondrial disease. Joey has been a patient of Akron Children’s for years and, at age 14, remains a patient with Dr. Bruce Cohen.
“No matter how much I try to support the hospital, there’s no way I can give back enough to adequately show my appreciation for everything Akron Children’s has done for my son and my family,” said Erik. “We’re so lucky to live where we do that we have such easy access to the greatest hospital in the area.”
Beyond committing to running the 3 races that make up the Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series, Erik has taken his efforts one step further by becoming a Children’s Champion.
“You can tell the nurses and doctors that they’re great, but I’m raising money for the hospital because I’m putting words into action,” said Erik. “I trust the hospital will use the money I raise on research, toys, or whatever is needed to make sure Akron Children’s is a great place for all of our kids.”
Now, Erik trains daily to build endurance in his legs to get him through his three races – the 8k, 10k and, ultimately, the half marathon in September. He’s also working hard to reach his Children’s Champion goal of raising $1,000, of which he’s personally matching the first $500 he raises.
“The reason why I train and commit to raising money…it all comes back to Joey,” said Erik. “He’s a medical anomaly; the happiest kid in the world; and, my inspiration for everything I do.”