Like many, Kolt Codner says running helps relieve stress and clears his mind but, this year, it’s also giving him a way to raise money for kids like his son, Andrew, a patient at Akron Children’s Hospital.
In May, Andrew’s pediatrician recommended testing to determine what was causing his allergy-like symptoms of swollen eyes and cheeks. About an hour after leaving the lab, Andrew’s results were in.
“I’ll never forget the moment. Andrew was enjoying a big bowl of ice cream when we got the call saying it could be cancer. We needed to pack our bags and get to Akron Children’s right away,” said Kolt. “Andrew had never stayed the night at a hospital before so he had no idea what to expect…as we settled in for our ‘sleepover,’ he looked at me and my wife and said, ‘Okay, now what are we going to do?’”
How does a parent explain a leukemia diagnosis to their 4-year-old child when it’s difficult for them to even process the news and next steps? Thankfully, the staff at Akron Children’s Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders is equipped with the latest medical ingenuity and kid-friendly approach to make the unimaginable seem doable.
“The entire Akron Children’s team does an amazing job of taking complicated things and making them relatable to Andrew while, at the same time, taking their job of caring for him very seriously,” said Kolt.
Andrew loves action heroes; his favorite is Iron Man. Andrew’s inpatient nurse took this tiny detail and used it to help explain some of things he’d be going through.
“Iron Andrew was the name she gave him the very first night of his first hospital stay, and he has embraced everything about it,” said Kolt. “He knew Ironman had an arc reactor to power his suit of armor so Andrew knew he was going to need one, too, only his is a medical port for his chemo. If things get scary or when it’s time to fight the cancer, he activates his suit of armor. It really helps him understand his role.”
For Andrew, treatment for his B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia will last 30 months with the really challenging portion taking place over the first 6 months. To help get through this tough stretch, his parents found something they could all look forward to doing together – raising money for Akron Children’s.
“When we saw fundraising was down for the Akron Marathon this year, my wife and I started talking about all the extras like stickers, gifts and other resources the hospital provides our family with to help us feel cared for,” said Kolt. “Peer-to-peer fundraising adds up so we wanted to do what we could to help offset a burden for someone else or provide another family with the extras that can help make a challenging time more manageable.”
Depending on how Andrew’s next phase of treatment goes, his dad plans to run his virtual marathon – 26.2 miles – around the Akron Children’s campus later this month.
“I can’t imagine a better motivator to get me through my first marathon than to look up and see Andrew and my wife cheering for me from his room,” said Kolt. “My wife is the real runner in the family so training and raising money for this has given me a new challenge, while I hope it gives Andrew something fun to do to get his mind off of the very real things he’s going through.”
With the help of donors like Kolt and his family, Akron Children’s is able to provide the little and big ‘extras’ that help make a positive difference in the lives of our patients and their families. Learn more about how you can become a Children’s Champion or make a donation to Kolt’s page today.