Akron Marathon founders Steve and Jeannine Marks were named the 2022 recipients of the Akron Community Foundation’s Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award, the foundation announced Tuesday.
The couple will be recognized at the annual award dinner Oct. 11 at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn.
The couple founded the Akron Marathon in 2003. According to the foundation, to date, the marathon has generated $133 million in economic impact for the Greater Akron community, celebrated more than 170,000 finishers and has raised $6 million for local charities.
The race, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2022, attracts 100,000 spectators each year and is the largest five-person marathon relay event in the United States, the foundation said.
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The Markses will be the 53rd recipients of the award, which the Akron Community Foundation presents each year to an individual or couple who “best exemplifies Bert Polsky’s selfless dedication to humanitarian causes in Akron.” Polsky, the former president of Polsky’s Department Store, was a founding trustee of the foundation.
Couple’s contributions to community are many
The foundation said that in 2011, Steve and Jeannine Marks established the Akron Marathon Sustainability Fund at the foundation, an endowment fund that supports the Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation’s mission of “promoting health and fitness, stimulating the local economy, galvanizing the community and benefiting charitable organizations.”
Steve Marks is the co-founder of Main Street Gourmet, which provides customized bakery products for national and regional food partners.
The foundation said that through his business, Steve Marks has raised millions of dollars for charitable causes, including Muffins for Mammograms, a partnership with Cleveland Clinic Akron General that provides mammogram screenings for Akron-area women. The company also supports hunger relief efforts through its “No Muffin Left Behind” sale, which has donated more than 750,000 pounds of food to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank since 2004, the foundation said.
Steve Marks’ awards include the Distinguished Leader Award from Leadership Akron, the Frank L. Simonetti Distinguished Business Alumni Award from the University of Akron and the H. Peter Burg Business Leadership Award from the Greater Akron Chamber. He is an alumnus of Leadership Akron and serves on the boards of the Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation and Curated Storefront. He previously served as a board member for Akron Community Foundation, the Greater Akron Chamber and the Akron Civic Theatre.
Jeannine Marks was executive director of Stewart’s Caring Place, a nonprofit cancer wellness center that offers free services for patients and their families, before retiring earlier this year. She was instrumental in the establishment of Stewart’s Caring Place in 2004 and served as a board member and volunteer before becoming its executive director, the foundation said. Under her leadership, the nonprofit increased its fundraising and budget by 900% and its programming to serve thousands of families in 18 counties, the foundation said.
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Jeannine Marks’ awards include the Murray Glauberman Young Leadership Award from the Shaw Jewish Community Center of Akron, the Chairman’s Award from the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Women of Achievement Award from the Women’s Network of Northeast Ohio. Marks serves on the boards of Cleveland Clinic Akron General, the Jewish Community Board of Akron and the Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation.
Steve and Jeannine Marks are both lifelong Akron-area residents and graduates of the University of Akron.
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The couple was selected to receive the award by a committee of past honorees. Recent recipients include former Akron Deputy Mayor Dave Lieberth; Stark & Knoll co-founding attorney Thomas Knoll; the Honorable Carla Moore; and Oak Associates founder Jim Oelschlager and his wife, Vanita.
This will be the first award presentation since Lieberth was honored in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the community foundation hosted a virtual retrospective celebration that recognized the achievements of all past Polsky Award recipients.
Corporate and individual sponsorships for the award dinner start at $2,500 and can be reserved at akroncf.org/PolskySponsor. For more information about sponsorship availability and benefits, call vice president and chief development officer Margaret Medzie at 330-436-5610.
Contact Beacon Journal reporter Emily Mills at email@example.com and on Twitter @EmilyMills818.