Joel Buyer, the son of John and Heather Buyer of Washington C.H., has been chosen for a special honor.
“From the first day that Joel was diagnosed (with cerebral palsy) Nationwide has been in our lives,” John Buyer said. “He just turned 8 over the weekend, so, we’ve been with them almost eight years in one way or another.
The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon has announced that Joel was named one of the “Patient Champions” who will represent 24 of the 26 miles on this year’s course. The other two miles along the Marathon route will be deemed the “Encore Mile” and “Angel Mile,” and many miles will be sponsored by a corporate or community organization.
“They’ve just been fantastic the entire time,” Buyer said. “The people there, they treat you like gold. Any way we can give back, whether it be cheering on runners, or giving money to the CP clinic, or anything we can do to give back to them for helping us, we want to try and that’s what we’re attempting to do.
“We’ll never be able to give back totally what they’ve given to us,” Buyer said. “We’re at least going to give it a try. The Columbus Marathon and ½ Marathon — being a Patient Champion and being on one of the miles to cheer on those marathoners is one of those ways and we really are looking forward to it. Joel is looking forward to it.
“Joel’s doing great,” Buyer said. “He just had a birthday (Friday, Oct. 7 Joel turned 8). He loves school, he loves his classmates. He is in second grade. He likes to bowl so we had his birthday party at the bowling alley (LeElla Lanes). We brought in his cousins and grandparents and made an afternoon of it.”
Joel is the grandson of Randy and Vicki Johnson, Beverly and Charlie Looker and Dewayne Buyer and Jeanne James and the great-grandson of Mae and Larry Johnson and Audrey Miller.
“They all support us so much,” Buyer said. “Especially the Johnsons and the Millers, because they are here in town. And Fayette County has been incredible for us. We’ve done the CP event for the last five years, going into our sixth year this March. We plan on doing that again and having the volleyball tournament again.”
After reviewing dozens of submissions of personal stories submitted through social networking sites and the hospital’s website, Patient Champions, who are current or former patients of Nationwide Children’s, were selected by a committee of hospital staff based on various criteria, including diversity of diagnosis, age and enthusiasm to cheer on race participants at their mile. A full list of Patient Champions can be found below.
The Encore Mile will feature Patient Champions who were honored along the race route the previous four years. The Angel Mile is dedicated to the angels of Nationwide Children’s who have already run their race. The Angel Mile will be lined with banners and represented by families celebrating the lives of their children while cheering on participants.
Marathon and ½ Marathon participants are encouraged to serve as “Children’s Champions” and raise donations on behalf of Nationwide Children’s. In the past four years, between participants’ fundraising efforts, corporate and community sponsorships and matches by the Marathon board, more than $4.5 million have been raised for Nationwide Children’s.
Partners that have committed to sponsoring a Miracle Mile along the 2016 Marathon route include: Platinum Sponsors L Brands, Nationwide and The Columbus Dispatch; Gold Sponsor Cardinal Health; and Silver Sponsors Alliance Data, Big Lots, CampusParc, Clif Bar, EAS Sports Nutrition, Fifth Third Bank, Germain Automotive Partnership, Kohl’s Department Stores, Kroger, Leaderpromos.com, Organic Valley, Panera, PNC, Subway, The Superior Group and Vaughn Industries.
Corporate or community organizations interested in becoming a partner in this year’s event may contact Matt Piede with Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation at (614) 355-5429. To read more about the Patient Champions’ stories and to support Nationwide Children’s, visit NationwideChildrens.org/marathon-patient-champions.
The 37th Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon will be held on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016 and will have a capacity of 6,000 full marathoners and 12,000 participants in the ½ Marathon. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon is the 17th largest marathon in the United States and one of the top marathons to qualify runners for the Boston Marathon. For more information, visit www.columbusmarathon.com.
The 2016 Patient Champions:
• Jessica Acton, 15, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis, Dola, OH 45835
• Laila Albanese, 4, Astrocytoma of Spinal Cord, Chillicothe, OH 45601
• Joel Buyer, 8, Cerebral Palsy, Washington Court House, OH 43160
• Jacob Carlino, 18, Ewing’s Sarcoma, Powell, OH 43065
• Tristen Cooper, 9, Multiple Diagnoses, Marietta, OH 45750
• Mason Dum, 15, Type 1 Diabetes, Stoutsville, OH 43154
• Evan Durant, 6, Double Outlet Right Ventricle with Transposition of the Great Arteries, Zanesville, OH 43701
• Gracelynn Dutton, 3, Spina Bifida, Delaware, OH 43015
• Layla Graham, 6, Batten’s Disease, Columbus, OH 43212
• Benjamin Harberts, 4, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Pataskala, OH 43062
• Lyla Horsley, 9, Asthma, Portsmouth, OH 45662
• Jude Hummer, 10, Addison’s Disease, ALD, Columbus, OH 43214
• Millie Johnson, 5, Arthrogryposis, Distal Type I, Upper Arlington, OH 43220
• Grant Loechler, 4, 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, Columbus, OH 43221
• Killian Madrid, 6, Severe Prematurity, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
• Breanna McGrady, 14, Crohns induced Pseudotumor Myositis, Clyde, OH 43410
• Riley Muller, 11, Mucopolysaccharidosis Type II (MPS II), Marysville, OH 43040
• Arjun Satyapriya, 5, Progressive Sensorineuronal Hearing Loss, Powell, OH 43065
• Alex Steckman, 21, Aortic Stenosis, and Coarctation of the Aorta, Westerville, OH 43081
• Alyssa Turner, 19, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, Westerville, OH 43801
• Aaron Welch, 9, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Epilepsy and Cerebral Palsy, Chillicothe, OH 45601
• Melanie Wheeler, 13, Myxopapillary Ependymoma, Galion, OH 44833
• Ella Wintringer, 8, Colonic Neuropathy, Orchard Park, N.Y. 14127
• Louis Wood, 16, Traumatic Brain Injury, Granville, OH 43023