COLUMBUS (WCMH) — You could smell chocolate in the air downtown on Sunday as thousands of runners took to the streets to run in the Hot Chocolate 5k and 15k.
NBC4’s Elyse Chengery was at the race that started at 7:30a.m. on Sunday and introduces us to a family who couldn’t be more grateful that a race like Sunday’s supports a charity close to their hearts.
Around 10,000 people came out to participate in the Hot Chocolate Run and participants we spoke with told us they had two things on their mind: Hundreds of gallons of hot chocolate, and supporting a great cause – Make-A-Wish.
One runner who finished the 15K said, “It’s so awesome, I work at Children’s Hospital and several of our kids that are there have had their Make-A-Wish, so it’s really cool.”
Over the past 10 years, the race has donated more than $1 million to nonprofits. The Hot Chocolate Run supports Make-A-Wish, which grants wishes of children with life-threatening conditions.
One of these children is 14-year-old Cimone Stills, who attends Pickerington High School North.
“Cimone has a lot of seizures at night,” explains her mother Tonishia. “Every day is unexpected, we don’t know what to expect from minute to minute. A seizure can happen at any time so it’s little sleep, it is being a hovering parent — overprotective — that’s what it’s like to be a parent of a child with epilepsy.”
Cimone Stills adds, “Since 8 I’ve been having seizure after seizure, I’ve been hearing the same thing from doctors which it kind of hurts. People that are Wish kids like me need more help just like others.”
Stills’ mother tells us her daughter used to be very active, with cheerleading and volleyball among her favorites, but due to her epilepsy she’s no longer able to.
“Even just to go for a run by herself, she’s unable to do that, so it’s very difficult. It’s life changing,” Tonishia says.
But Cimone says she feels blessed and is excited to plan her Make-A-Wish trip.
“I’m going to Paris. I’m super excited, yeah, I can’t wait!” says Cimone.
“I’ve seen kids at hospitals and I see them in such a worse condition, I see them in wheelchairs and I see them with tubes, and I just look in the mirror and I look at my scar for surgery. I think, you know, ‘It’s okay, there’s kids that are worse,'” she adds.
According to Make-A-Wish, research shows children who have wishes granted build physical and emotional strength they need to help fight a critical illness and that there are more than 260 children right here in central Ohio who are eligible for a wish.
Tonishia says one thing that has been instrumental in Cimone’s progress is her neurologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital – Dr. Patel.
“We couldn’t do this without him…a very special doctor!” she says.
“Every day we’re talking about Paris and what we’re going to do it’s been huge for Cimone’s treatment and talking about Paris and getting her excited and giving her hope. So thankful…so I would encourage everyone to donate to Make-A-Wish. The smile on her face is priceless,” Tonishia says.
Cimone tells NBC 4’s Elyse Chengery she hopes to leave for Paris in April.
For more Make-A-Wish information or to donate http://oki.wish.org/
More about The Hot Chocolate Run here – https://www.hotchocolate15k.com/columbus