This year’s Akron marathon turned “virtual” due to COVID-19. So instead of trekking 26.22 miles alongside hundreds of other runners around Akron as originally planned, for one father, the marathon became an opportunity to honor his four-year-old son’s bravery in enduring treatment for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Instead of a city-wide jaunt, dad Kolt Codner decided to run in circles around the hospital where his son is being treated until he hit 26.22 miles. Conder told People, “The doctors and the nurses have made this the best possible experience we could possibly hope to have. We thought this was something we could do to try to give back and show appreciation for the experience we’ve had.”
Kolt, who has been training for a year, ran the marathon on October 17, which ended up translating to 35 laps around the Akron Children’s Hospital. But Kolt didn’t run those miles alone. His wife, Tristan, joined him for a few miles, and his son, Andrew, cheered for his dad. Kolt said, “I came around one corner and I was still almost a full block away, but I could hear him screaming, ‘Go, Dad, go! Run faster!'” He added, “He had brought his drums and he had a little trumpet out there, and he had made signs, and he was cheering me on.”
And even when Andrew couldn’t be outside with his dad cheering for him, Kolt wrote his son’s names on the tops of his shoes as a reminder of why he was running. He said that Andrew “continues to push himself every time we’d go through treatment and I needed to push myself, as well, through a few hours there in the morning.”
Kolt and Tristan ended up raising an incredible $16,000 for the hospital as a result of the marathon, far surpassing their original fundraising goal of $1,000. And during the final quarter-mile, Andrew ran alongside his father and crossed the finish line together. Kolt said that Andrew has remained in good spirits during his treatment, which began several months towards the beginning of quarantine.
Amidst the pain that Andrew endures, Kolt recalls a time when his son “sits up in his bed and he’s, ‘Daddy, open the blinds for me… Look at that sunset. That’s a beautiful sunset. Today was a good day.'” Kolt adds, “It was just an amazing thing that he, in the midst of all of that scary stuff, could be positive. It’s something I think we’ve all needed and we’ve all leaned on during that difficult time.”