As runners gathered on the historic grounds of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens for a new start to the Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon, Half Marathon and Team Relay presented by FirstEnergy, 14 hero patients from Akron Children’s took their places along the 26.2 mile route.
For the fourth year, patients were selected to represent the hospital as part of its role as the title beneficiary of the Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series.
“We have 14 heroes you’ll see along the race route today,” Shawn Lyden, chief strategy officer at Akron Children’s Hospital, said to a sea of runners at the starting line. “Each hero has an uplifting story and an infectious spirit that will encourage you to push past your limits on your way to the finish line, just as our heroes do every day.”
After the opening remarks, Bill Considine, chief executive officer emeritus of Akron Children’s Hospital, rang the ceremonial starting bell to release more than 12,000 runners onto the blue line route through Akron.
Hero patients were stationed at “hero zones,” or mile markers, along the route and were joined by sponsors, family, friends and even strangers to help cheer on runners. This year’s hero patients, sporting superhero capes and offering hand-touch “power” boosts to runners.
New this year was the hospital’s ‘traveling’ hero, Lucas Ransom. Lucas took on the full marathon in a custom race chair pushed by his father, Brent. The two cashed-in on high-fives along the way to give Brent the motivation he needed to finish strong. They finished 26.2 miles in just over 5 hours.
Congratulations to our first traveling #ACHero Lucas Ransom and his dad Brent for completing their first marathon together! We are in awe by their determination and strength! @AkronMarathon #runAkron @Webble_wabble pic.twitter.com/4NlgBOzjEv
— Akron Children’s Hospital (@AkronChildrens) September 28, 2019
The Akron Children’s hero zone featured 5 hero patients, as well as former hero patients and current patients who came to the zone to show their support.
Patients and staff members lined the Considine building bridge and sidewalks along Bowery Street to catch a glimpse of runners and give them the inspiration needed to get to the finish line.
Many of the runners ran to make good on their personal goals, while others like Erik Ricci ran his first full marathon and Ken Moy and Melanie McDonald ran the half marathon in support of their children, who are also hero patients this year – Joey, Mary and Brayden.
Runners like Matt Tullis, a former patient and guest starting bell ringer at the 2017 Akron Marathon, brought his family to Akron to run in the team relay. Tullis of Sandy Hook, Conn. (formerly of Ashland, Ohio), is a survivor of childhood cancer and ran to honor the friends he met during treatment at Akron Children’s decades ago.
Also peppered throughout the race were runners wearing teal blue shirts to designate them as Children’s Champions. This year, 40 people elected to be Children’s Champions by committing to raising $1,000 to help Akron Children’s provide quality pediatric care to every child who comes through its doors.
In addition, more than 350 Akron Children’s staff members ran and 70 volunteered at this year’s race in support of the kids they serve and the community they work in.