You've probably heard it said before, but it is 100% true: This event simply would not happen without volunteers, 3,000 to be exact. To bring attention to these very important people, we are adding a new "Volunteer Spotlight" feature to our newsletters.
This time we're focusing on a pair of women who provide comfort, kindness, fun and fluids to our Marathoners each year as co-captains of one of the most Halloween-themed locations on course between Mile marker 20 and 21 on King Avenue.
Please read the Q & A below and learn a bit more about these wonderful volunteers, Sharon Osborne and Shari Veleba!
Name: Sharon Osborne
Job: General Manager and National Academy of Sports Medicine, Certified Personal Trainer, GO: Fitness Center
Name: Shari Veleba
Job: Information and Referral Specialist, The Center for Disability Empowerment, Columbus.
Family & Pets:
Sharon - My daughter that is getting married this summer! She has all the pets now, but at one point we had three dogs, a cat and a horse!
Shari - My family is from Fremont in Northwest Ohio.
Volunteer history/background with the Columbus Marathon:
Sharon - We have been volunteering at least 10 years.
Shari - I first volunteered with the Columbus Marathon when my street at the time became part of the course and I couldn't get a bus ride up to church. I decided to volunteer as a day of service to others. After that first time of handing out water, Sharon asked if I would like to be the water station co-captain. I loved volunteering, so I agreed to do that. I have lost track of the number of years I have volunteered with Sharon at GO: Fitness, but have been co-captain for quite some time. Eventually the marathon staff asked us to be Super Captains of initially half of the course and then the full course, whereby we serve as trouble-shooters and mentors to the marathon's full lineup of water station captains.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering with the event?
Sharon - The Columbus Marathon really kicks off the holiday season for me. Being part of a squad of volunteers cheering the marathoners through the 20 mile mark (commonly called the Dead Zone, but we make it the GO Zone) when runners hit the wall has truly been an honor and so much fun. Also getting to know so many fantastic people that are the backbone to making the marathon happen.
Shari - I enjoy helping the water station captains be the best captains they can be, and helping answer any questions they might have about serving in that capacity. It supports the runners and their individual goals, too.
Do you have any funny stories from your time as a volunteer?
Sharon - Too many! The best story was I recruited Shari after captaining the first marathon. She was watching and cheering on the runners from across the street, so I happily jumped over to recruit her for the next year then! We have been great friends since.
Shari - Volunteering as a Super Captain and as a water station captain is a wonderful activity that I really enjoy. I like seeing how the volunteers of all ages enjoy helping out to support the runners. One funny thing about volunteering is that the musical talent along the race course certainly wakes up each neighborhood that they are in. The music makes the Marathon and volunteering for it even more fun.
Why should others volunteer with the Columbus Marathon?
Sharon - Volunteering to help raise money to help cure children - what could be a better reason?
Shari - Giving back to one's community is always important. And helping with the Marathon and in turn helping Nationwide Children's Hospital is a wonderful bonus.