Eighteen thousand athletes took to the streets of downtown Columbus on Sunday for the Columbus Marathon.
Now in its 39th year, the marathon raises money for Nationwide Children’s Hospital. In the last seven years, the race has raised more than $8 million to support the life-saving work of the hospital.
As runners made their way to the finish line, patient champions swarmed the mile markers to encourage the runners. Among those patient champions was 8-year-old Vinny Hochstetler, who took his job very seriously.
Vinny cheered each and every runner on as they went by.
“It’s fun and I’m happy to go to the marathon,” he said.
Vinny has been in and out of Nationwide Children’s Hospital for the past eight years.
“Vinny is a patient champion because of what Children’s Hospital has done for him,” Vinny’s father, Myron Hochstetler said.
Vinny suffers from bilateral hearing loss, but with implants placed by doctors at Children’s Hospital, he is now thriving.
“It’s made a world of difference what Children’s has been able to do to help him with his ears,” Myron said.
The patient champions weren’t the only ones enjoying themselves on the course.
“It’s pretty neat every mile they have one designated to a person, they have a big high five and then you run up,” Nicholas Stenger, a runner who came in from Cincinnati to participate, said. “You give them a high five and it gives you a little motivation a little push for the next mile.”
Vinny’s father said the support and enthusiasm runners like Stenger have for the patient champions means the world to the kids.
“It’s remarkable to see all this support of everybody running, running this race for us all and that support it’s amazing it’s a wonderful feeling,” he said.
Vinny even had the chance to cross the finish line himself.
“My wife is running the marathon with my other son,” Myron said. “The last little quarter-mile, they’re going to grab him and run the remaining distance together.”
If you would like to support the marathon’s fundraising efforts for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, visit www.columbusmarathon.com/help-kids.