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Thank you and congratulations to Cummins, the organizers, sponsors, volunteers, city employees and citizens of Columbus for making the inaugural Mill Race Marathon a success.
It was a first for my son, Collin, and me as we experienced the joy and excitement of crossing the finish line of the half-marathon together. Although Collin is confined to a wheelchair, he had supporters encouraging and cheering him along the entire route. This feeling of community support was felt by all race participants.
Putting on an event of this magnitude requires collaboration, communication and teamwork. These three components embody the spirit and character of Columbus. Ten years ago, I relied on these same tools in making Freedom Field, a playground for all children but especially those with special needs, a reality. The Mill Race Marathon is only the latest example of how good things get accomplished in Columbus.
The marathon is a natural fit for Columbus as it encourages an active and healthy lifestyle. Columbus Regional Hospital has been a champion and community leader in this area for years. The success of the marathon depended on the community’s ability to organize volunteers, to host and make welcome visitors and participants, and to stage a sporting event at the highest level. Once again, our Visitors Center and Parks and Recreation Department came through in ways that make their cooperation the envy of other communities near and far.
We have the best volunteers in the state, which makes doing an event like the marathon possible. City crews, police and firefighters made sure the race was safe and enjoyable for everyone. And because of our long history of staging successful sporting events, our volunteers and city employees made this event seem effortless — but I know better!
If you have never been involved in an event like this you have no idea what it takes to pull it off. Few communities have the desire or the capacity to even attempt something like this. Columbus does, and it shows in the results and along every step of the 26.2-mile marathon, the half-marathon and the 5K.
According to the excellent coverage provided by The Republic, 4,800 people participated in the event. According to Channel 13 television, the marathon brought between 10,000 and 15,000 people downtown on Saturday morning. No matter how you cut it, the race generated revenue for local businesses, restaurants and hotels, which eventually finds its way back into the pockets and bank accounts of local citizens.
I am proud to live in a community that dreams big dreams. We are all fortunate to live in a community that celebrates the unexpected and unforgettable and supports events like the Mill Race Marathon. Collin and I will never forget the emotion we shared crossing the finish line together. And my community made it possible.
Finally, a special thanks to Steve and Tonya Leach and Kurt and Kelly Schwarze for making the Finish on 4th Afterparty the perfect ending to a memorable day. I can’t wait for next year.
Laurie Booher is a Columbus resident and mother of Collin Booher who, because of spina bifida, is confined to a wheelchair. Mother and son completed the half marathon in last week’s Mill Race Marathon with the help of a small team of fellow runners and support of the audience. She was one of the originators of Freedom Field. This letter was received on Oct. 2.
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