COLUMBUS (WCMH) — More than 8,000 people took part in Sunday’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital full and half marathon, all for their own personal reasons.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event couldn’t be held in person, which participants said made this year’s race extra special.

The weekend wasn’t just about the runners—but the volunteers and organizers who made this all possible.

“I’m just honored to be a part of the organization and also the supporters,” said Katie Liese, one of the participants.

She said as someone who ran with her friend, it was a learning experience for her. She got to learn about people’s unique stories and why Nationwide Children’s Hospital is dear to so many people’s hearts.

It’s not only the runners who people cheer on, but the many parents sitting and cheering their loved ones behind the lines, and the people supporting the cause.

Take, for example, the Snodgrass family. Though they weren’t running, it was emotional to see how many were running on their behalf. Kendra Snodgrass’ son Blaine was one of the patient champions at mile 18.

“Blaine was diagnosed with deafness as 6 months old,” Kendra Snodgrass said. “Then at 6 years old, he was diagnosed with autism, which was another part of our journey.”

Snodgrass is thankful people get to see her son’s story and strength, while also raising awareness to other parents.

Another runner, Curt Mascherino, said that while his daughter Emerson couldn’t be there to cheer him on, he’ll continue to run to keep her memory alive.

“She had a rare genetic disease, a seizure disorder,” Mascherino said.

Each mile he runs is emotional and he hopes more people can learn about the importance of the good the race enables. Mascherino said there is no care like the care Nationwide Children’s Hospital provides for their patients and their loved ones.

“The technology, the care, the amount of doctors and nurses, the facilities, everything is just times 10,” he said.

Twenty-four Nationwide Children’s Hospital Patient Champions and their families lined 24 miles of the race, with one mile being designated the Angel Mile, dedicated to the patients who have died. Another mile, the Encore Mile, was lined with nearly 200 Patient Champions from previous races.