(Posted May 21, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Cassie Gantner walked much of the Rockin’ on the Run course with her Basset hounds, Frankie and Clara.
This was the second time the Amanda, Ohio, resident has participated in the event, a walk/run, silent auction and festival that raises funds for pediatric brain tumor research.
Gantner travels to London to support the cause in honor of her nephew, Luke Leist, also of Amanda, who almost didn’t see his 16th birthday due to a brain tumor.
“We give our (finishing) medals to him, and he signs our shirts each year,” she said.
So many of the more than 650 people who attended this year’s Rockin’ on the Run, held May 18 at St. Patrick School, have a personal connection to the cause.
Brian Davis of Orient brought his large family to the festivities in tribute to his 15-year-old daughter, Carrie, who had a tumor removed when she was 2 years old and whose scans have been clear since 2013.
Chelsea Antle of Plain City watched as her son, Ryan, who was diagnosed in December with a mass in his brain, played with his cousin on the giant inflatables in the children’s area. A recent MRI showed no new growth in the mass.
“These families and their kids are incredible and so resilient. Getting to meet them and hear their stories is motivation to keep going and to push harder to grow our event every year,” said Ashley Winebrenner, Rockin’ on the Run vice president and London resident.
Organizers are still crunching the numbers, but Winebrenner said she is confident that once again they will be able to donate $25,000 to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. In its 10-year history, the event has raised more than $168,000 for pediatric brain tumor research.
“The way the community and surrounding areas come together to support our cause is truly unique,” Winebrenner said. “People comment a lot about how there aren’t many brain tumor specific events, and when they hear of one, they want to come to show support.
“Most people don’t realize how prevalent brain tumors are until they know someone with one, and then they hear that they are much more common than they thought. People are coming from all over the state to show their support, and that means the world to us.”
A total of 516 people registered for the 5K race and the new one-mile walk/run, which is up 20 percent over last year’s total. Of those, 450 picked up packets and most completed the courses. Additionally, several children took part in the new kids’ fun loop.
“We are so happy with the turnout! We really think opening the new distances brought new people in,” Winebrenner said. “We had a few comment on how happy they were to be able to participate this year in the one-miler because they just couldn’t physically handle the 5K. The kids loved having their own race, and the parents told us it was the perfect way for the kids to feel involved.”
In addition to supporting research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Rockin’ on the Run donates to the hospital’s Wagon Fund. Anyone can sponsor a wagon which families at the hospital can use to give rides to their children or haul personal belongings.
The Rockin’ on the Run committee’s goal is to sponsor a wagon for each of the children who serve as inspiration for their event. They got started on the list last year and will add to it this year and in years to come.
This year’s Rockin’ on the Run proceeds were donated to research and wagons in honor of Erica Reagyn Semler, Natalie Crum, Kyra Longsdorf, Garrett Stout, Faith Brenly, Carrie Davis, Logan Kinzel, Zachary Samuel and Ryan Antle, children who are fighting brain tumors, and in memory of Nate Elfrink, Violet Baier and Braxton Long, children who lost their courageous battles in February 2010, December 2010, and July 2017, respectively.
To learn more about how to get involved or donate, go to rockinontherun.org.