Get to Know the 2022 Spirit Award Winners!

Updated: Sep 16

For more than a decade, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon has honored a group of people annually who have inspired others by their efforts to overcome obstacles or challenges to take part in our race or represented the event in a positive way.


While Spirit Award Winners were officially announced a few weeks ago, we wanted to continue to recognize these tremendous people for the impact they have on their communities and OUR race. We asked each of the winners some fun questions and found out some of their favorites so keep reading to get to know them a little better!


Malik Willoughby, Columbus, OH – A

pillar of the Columbus community, Malik is an award-winning leader in various fields with more than 30 years’ experience as a practitioner of mindfulness, movement, and fitness; this includes a 200-hr certification as a yoga instructor, specializing in energy vinyasa flow. Currently employed with Columbus Recreation and Parks, Malik has spent over 25 years in recreation and wellness administration and management and has played a key role in the Highlight's Kids Run in years past. Notable marks of Malik's indefatigable commitment to his community are his role as co-founder of the Mansa Men mentoring program for youth and young men of color; his work with black men with health conditions as part of the Impact 100 project; and his four-year membership in the local chapter of Black Men Run, culminating in his current role as Captain. Malik has been instrumental in organizing meaningful and meditative runs honoring Amaud Arbery and the Juneteenth holiday and continues to inspire and lead runners of all colors and backgrounds in the Columbus community. Malik has previously run the NCH 1/2 Marathon and will run his first full marathon in Columbus this fall.


Fun facts about Malik:

  • Favorite Superhero: He says his mom, and a distant second place is Spiderman!

  • Favorite Animal: Malik has a strong sense of family and community, just like Elephants--which are his favorite animals!

  • What Keeps You Motivated During Training: His running brotherhood with Black Men Run and the “rather cool Columbus running community” is what keeps him motived.


Nigel Rich, Columbus, OH Nigel is an outstanding example of how Nationwide Children's Hospital not only treats children, but empowers them to become successful adults, despite medical challenges they face. At age 12, doctors at Nationwide Children's Hospital diagnosed Nigel with a chronic, challenging medical condition. As a previous Patient Champion for the 2018 Columbus Marathon, Nigel was inspired by the marathon runners who offered him encouragement. The next year he decided to run the 1/2 marathon and completed it and this year he hopes to better his time. As a senior at Otterbein University studying nursing, Nigel hopes to someday help children—not only by giving them medical treatment but helping them see that they can still pursue their dreams, despite a medical diagnosis. He not only manages his condition well but shows that difficulties don’t need to prevent you from pursuing dreams. In fact, he has used those difficulties to shape his dreams into good for others.


Fun facts about Nigel:

  • Favorite Part of OUR Race: Running past Nationwide Children’s Hospital and looking up at all the inspiring messages in the windows of the hospital.

  • Favorite Post-Race Food: After finishing races, he rewards himself with a Dutch Crumb Donut from Honey Dip Donuts!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the rest of the week to learn more about the rest of the 2022 Spirit Award Winners!


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