A Bellefontaine woman will be honored at the 2019 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon Sunday, Oct. 20.
Rose Smith, 36, is one of 10 recipients of the Lashutka Spirit Award.
The program is named to honor former Columbus Mayor Greg Lashutka, who helped launch the Columbus Marathon in 1980.
The marathon spotlights runners and walkers who have overcome obstacles while training for the full or half marathon.
The winners will be recognized at the start line for their accomplishments.
Smith’s journey started in 2016, when her cousin Amy Nemec passed away from leukemia.
“That affected our family pretty heavily,” Smith said.
Nemec had a living donor for a bone marrow transplant that attempted to save her life.
“We never forgot her donor and what that young man did for her,” Smith said.
Then in October 2017, Smith had a friend donate part of her liver to a young girl.
“It hit me and really inspired me,” Smith said.
She was always an organ donor, but she felt compelled to do more.
“I felt like I needed to do something for another family to try to keep what happened to our family from happening if I had the ability to do so,” Smith said.
From there she researched kidney donation for about seven months and told her family of her plans.
But she felt a call from God saying, “I need you to pay attention,” she said. “And I said, ‘I think I’m supposed to do this and I’m supposed to do this right now.”
Smith sent in her application to be a donor on the two-year anniversary of her cousin’s passing.
From there she did all the required medical testing and a full-day evaluation at Ohio State.
“It was more than just physical tests,” Smith said. “I had to meet with a psychologist to make sure I was of sound mind to give my kidney to a stranger.”
The call came in October 2018 that Smith was approved to donate her kidney within a few months.
But it didn’t end at just being a kidney donor, Smith made the request of wanting to donate her organ to a child.
A few weeks later, while in Florida on vacation, Smith was notified that she was matched with a child — then-3-year-old Levi Fleshman.
The surgery happened just three days after what would’ve been Smith’s cousin’s 50th birthday in January 2019.
“I know without a doubt my kidney was destined for this little boy,” Smith said.
And Levi will be waiting to cheer on Smith on mile 13 of the 26 miles of the marathon.
Smith is in her seventh year as a paid staff member of the marathon and in her 10th year as a runner.
“My heart is just right there with Children’s (Hospital),” Smith said. “I’ve been lucky enough to work with the marathon and see this hospital in action first hand.”
When asked what the Spirit Award means to her, Smith said it means a lot.
“Being on staff with the marathon, I’ve watched as we name these people every year and they’re just so inspiring,” she said. “These are people who have been through a lot and are still raising money for the Children’s Hospital. It means a lot (that) this committee selected me to be among these people I never thought I’d be among.”