Meet Our FirstEnergy Akron Marathon Hero

Brayden McDonald, our FirstEnergy Akron Marathon Hero.

August 5, 2019

Some heroes wear capes, some wear uniforms and others wear hospital gowns. Diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) at just four weeks old, Brayden McDonald, now 10, has spent a good portion of her life in hospitals to receive treatment for the disease with no cure. As this year’s FirstEnergy Akron Marathon Hero, on Saturday, Sept. 28, Brayden will be one of 16 Akron Children’s Hospital patient heroes featured in zones along the 26.2-mile course. Each hero has received care by Akron Children’s Hospital, and each has a special story of survival and a unique super power. Brayden will be at the FirstEnergy Hero Zone near Portage Country Club, with her cape and her smile to cheer on and inspire runners.

Melanie McDonald, customer accounting associate, has another very important title – Brayden’s mom. “Brayden goes to Akron Children’s Hospital several times a year for appointments with her CF Care Team and annually for an extensive visit with tests and exams to make sure her body is functioning like it should,” Melanie said. CF often causes buildup of thick, sticky mucus that can damage many of the body’s organs, particularly the lungs and digestive system.

In July 2017, Brayden was hospitalized for two weeks due to a pulmonary exacerbation and pneumonia. “The team assisting during her stay in the hospital was friendly and positive and eased Brayden’s anxiety by explaining her treatments in a manner she could easily understand. They offered books, video games and other activities to keep her busy, and they also made sure my husband and I were comfortable while at the hospital,” Melanie said. “Our family is thrilled to have this opportunity to honor Akron Children’s Hospital and to bring awareness to Cystic Fibrosis.”

Interested in volunteering?

On the morning of Sept. 28, volunteers are needed to distribute giveaway items, make signs, cheer on runners and wear the Louie the Lightning Bug costume. All volunteers receive a T-shirt, and employees can earn Healthy Living credits for community involvement.

Register to volunteer.

Melanie is so dedicated to the cause that she’s running in all three of the Akron Marathon Race Series events: The June 29 National Interstate Insurance 8K; the Aug. 10 Goodyear Half Marathon; and the Sept. 28 FirstEnergy Akron Marathon.

Brayden’s superhero name is “Volt” and her superpowers include advocating for her care and warding off infection by monitoring her diet and lung function. She participates in clinical trials, takes more than 20 pills a day, and uses a g-tube at night to get additional nutrients. Twice a day, she uses a nebulizer and mechanical vest therapy at home to clear her lungs.

We’re cheering for Brayden in her daily battle − and we’ll be cheering for Melanie as she runs through the FirstEnergy Hero Zone featuring the superhero ­– and a host of volunteers − who will help her power to the finish line.

See Brayden’s story and meet the other 15 hospital hero patients.

​Young Brayden as Batgirl.

The McDonald Family − Melanie, Brayden and Brian − posed at the National Interstate Insurance Race, where Brayden had the opportunity to design her own shoes, donated by Project Run.