GAHANNA — For Ashley Winebrenner, an independent agent at Dwyer Insurance Agency in London, making a difference for children with brain cancer has become a true calling in life.
Winebrenner started Rockin’ on the Run, an annual walk/run in Madison County, to raise awareness about the prevalence of childhood brain tumors and raise money for research. Now heading into its ninth year, Rockin’ on the Run brings in more than 500 participants and has raised more than $112,000 for pediatric brain cancer research.
Because of her selfless efforts, Winebrenner is the recipient of OIA’s (Ohio Insurance Agents Association) prestigious 2017 Community Service Award, which recognizes an insurance professional making a positive impact in their local community.
“When I was growing up, I was taught that you work hard and give back,” Winebrenner says. “To be recognized with this award is validation that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing as an independent agent and member of the local community. This award gives me even more motivation to make a difference.”
Inspired by a family friend’s daughter, Reagyn, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 2009, Winebrenner decided it was time to take action. Winebrenner, along with her mom Johnda and Reagyn’s mom Carol, founded Rockin’ on the Run in 2010 to bring members of the community together to support Reagyn and other children battling this devastating disease.
“When Reagyn was diagnosed with a brain tumor, we just felt so helpless — she was only five years old,” Winebrenner says. “I always thought brain tumors were very rare, but I soon realized how many children are being diagnosed with this disease every day.”
Rockin’ on the Run raises funds for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Participants can choose whether they want their money to go toward the hospital’s cancer research efforts or the “fun fund,” which helps make a child’s stay more pleasant.
“We’ve formed a great relationship with Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” Winebrenner says. “We have two research doctors that speak at our event and participate in the race. They talk to the public about how the funds are used for cutting-edge research right here in central Ohio.”
With Rockin on the Run’s 10th anniversary coming up in 2019, Winebrenner is excited for what the future holds. The nonprofit’s donation goal increases each year, and plans to start a second race in a different community are in discussion. As Rockin’ on the Run continues to grow, Winebrenner meets more and more children with brain tumors — moments that reinforce her dedication to the nonprofit’s mission.
“We had a very sick little girl come to our race who was getting ready to start treatment,” Winebrenner says. “We introduced her to Reagyn, who is now 16 years old, which gave her a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope that she won’t always feel sick. This is what Rockin’ on the Run is all about.”