COLUMBUS (WCMH) – On Sunday, October 16, nearly 15,000 athletes will take to the course for the 42nd annual Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon. Every runner has their own personal goal, but this race has a bigger meaning for others.

With each and every step, Liz Sklaw is running for more than just herself. She’s running for every child that has ever been treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“I can’t imagine any other race that is as special as this one,” said Sklaw. “When you see every single mile and you see those patients and you run by the hospital, there’s something special about it.”

Liz will be running her first ever marathon, and it’s personal for her because of her son, Ethan.

“In the spring of 2021, he was diagnosed with morphia or pediatric scleroderma. There’s multiple names. And it was a very unknown thing for us,” said Sklaw. “Since the age of 2, he had this purple and white spot under his eye. We didn’t think much of it. We thought maybe it was a birthmark. He would grow out of it. But after some friends really started to point it out to us, because it was pigmenting, we took him to the dermatologist at Children’s.”

After running the half marathon last year, this year, Sklaw had bigger goals for herself and for Ethan.

“And I said I’m going to apply for him to be a patient champion because I saw these kids and I’m like, Ethan needs to be out there. We need to raise awareness for rare diseases. For kids with rheumatological diseases where it’s underfunded,” said Sklaw.

That means Ethan will be there along the route. He will be standing at mile four, high-fiving runners as they go by, reminding everyone the purpose is more than finishing a race, but funding a place that saves lives every day.

“I think about it when I’m running and I become a puddle of emotion. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m going to have all this energy and just run by and not think about it. I want to enjoy every single moment of this race. I know that’s a lot to say running 26 miles. But I get to do this. My body gets to do this,” said Sklaw.

“We take for granted we have one of the best institutions in our backyard. You don’t want to need the hospital. But when you need the hospital, it’s there for you. And we’re the ones who are making that happen.”

If you want to donate money to the hospital, here is a link to Liz’s fundraising page.