FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2017
Contact: Tim Sword
Greater Columbus Sister Cities International
2017 Sister Cities Marathon Exchange Ambassadors Selected
COLUMBUS – Greater Columbus Sister Cities International (GCSCI), in partnership with the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon and Dresden Sister City, Inc., is pleased to announce 14 local residents who have been selected to represent the Greater Columbus Region in this year’s Sister Cities Marathon Exchange. This is the sixth year that local runners will be traveling to Dresden, Germany, and the third year to Curitiba, Brazil and Hefei, China.
Athletics have long been a means of connecting people and cultures, and these representatives of Columbus have the opportunity to participate in a marathon in one of the sister cities. Columbus’ representatives will be staying with a host family during their time abroad. “This program provides a exciting opportunity for residents of our city to immerse themselves in a new culture while doing something they love,” said GCSCI President Tim Sword. “The athlete ambassadors play an important role in promoting the Columbus Region to cities across the globe, while bringing different cultures and relationships back home from our sister cities,” Sword added.
A committee selected finalists from the Greater Columbus region to run the partner races around the world and act as athlete ambassadors. Calls were made to each of the finalists to confirm their interest and probe a little deeper into their understanding of what it means to be an ambassador in this exchange. The following Ambassadors have been selected to participate this year:
Diane Alecusan, 33
Diane attended Ohio State University and has resided in Columbus for 15 years. She began running in 7th grade and competed in her first half marathon—the Columbus Marathon—in 2010. Diane works for the Ohio Housing Financing Agency and is an urban planner. Curitiba is a perfect destination for her as she is interested in discovering how Curitiba’s development as a model eco-city can translate to Columbus. Diane already considers herself an informal ambassador and is excited to add Curitiba to the list of international places she’s visited.
Chelsea Alexander, 25
Chelsea is a young, energetic nurse who moved to Columbus after college. When she’s not taking care of patients at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital, she finds time to volunteer at a free medical clinic, train for Peletonia, play sand volleyball and volunteer for Birthright. Chelsea began running 7 years ago. She is very enthusiastic, loves Columbus and has a true passion for Brazilian culture.
Kristen J. Hosni, 41
Kristen has resided in Columbus since 2008. She ran her first 5k when she was 7 years old and has been running ever since. Kristen has wanted to travel internationally since college but set dreams aside to raise her children. Besides being a mother, she is Director of Marketing at Resource International Inc. Kristen is extremely passionate, active in the Columbus community and knowledgeable about the city. 4 out of 5 of Kristen’s brothers and sisters have been to South America and she is very excited to travel to Curitiba to join the ranks.
Maggie Gons, 37
Maggie came to Columbus in 1998 as an undergrad at The Ohio State University. After living in Kansas City, she and her husband relocated to Columbus where she works as Director of PLAY Project & Specialized Interventions at The Childhood League Center. Maggie resumed running in 2014 and is ready to take on the challenge of running in another country. She is passionate about Columbus and interested in the reciprocal nature of international exchange. Maggie is excited to experience Brazil’s diverse culture, inspired by charismatic fellow clinicians who just happened to be Brazilian!
Daralyn Baldogo, 26, AAA Ohio Auto Club, Marketing Manager
Graduate of The Ohio State University. Grad, lifelong runner, active in social media, great fundraising ideas, enthusiastic, passionate and ambitious, has lifelong goal of visiting all 7 continents, already considers herself a Columbus advocate.
Rebecca Fox, 29, Discover Financial Services, Fraud Investigator
The Ohio State University, current Art History Student and studying German. She says she is a “Columbus girl who wants to introduce our great city to the world—one step at a time”.
Stephen Wilson, 30, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Legislative Relations Professional
Graduate of The Ohio State University, active in Columbus philanthropic and service community, cultural curiosity, fundraising experience, involved with CIAO, limited travel experience so this could be monumental for him.
Devon Whitaker, 57, JP Morgan Chase, Program Manager
Graduate of The Ohio State University, 2 year Children’s Champion in Columbus Marathon, 2 year Dresden athlete ambassador host, enjoy hosting exchange students, represents a runner that anyone can relate to: “Back of the Pack” runner.
Ann B. Fowble, 69, Retired Special Education Teacher and Administrator
OSU Doctorate in special education, has run 16 full marathons in her 60’s, active in running groups, inspirational, knowledgeable about Columbus, family German connections.
William Haynes, 36
William was born just north of Columbus and is a lifelong runner. He has made being a Columbus advocate his career—creating his own ShowMeColumbus tourism business. Will is a Certified Tourism Ambassador with Experience Columbus, a photographer and writer and seeks to do his best to “shape this growing city”. After having lived on three different continents, Will speaks English, Spanish and has a working knowledge of Thai and German. He enjoys events which unite our community and is eager to represent Columbus in Hefei.
Avery Gustovich, 37
Avery was born and raised in Pataskala. A Recruiter for Whole Foods Market, she describes herself as a family-oriented, carefree adventure-seeker. While she has only been running for three years, the sport has a special connection to her father who passed away just after they ran their first 5K together. Hefei will be only the second country Avery has visited—with her first being Jamaica. Active in the Columbus community and very culturally curious, Avery will make a great Columbus advocate.
Courtney Werts, 40
Courtney got her bachelor’s from The Ohio State University and is currently a stay-at-home mom while she returns to school to study early childhood education. She has been running for 20+ years and is a triathlete. Courtney is active on social media, blogging about her triathlon training and running her children’s YouTube channel. She is interested in children and in making a difference and believes the best tourists are those who are “focused on soaking up the differences they find in their fantastic destinations”.
Sandy Hugill, 46, Management Consultant
Sandy grew up in Columbus and attended The Ohio State University. Currently she is works as a Management Consultant. While she only started running 13 years ago, she has already completed 74 marathons and 40 half marathons. Sandy has run a marathon in all 50 states and has the goal of running marathons on all seven continents! She enjoys blogging about her experiences as a multiple marathoner. Sandy has done some significant travel in her career and believes that, “Real diplomacy happens through small acts such as the Sister City program and needs people who are open-minded and share their culture, while learning about the other culture in exchange”.
Kristian M. Mines, 49
Kristian is a graduate of The Ohio State University and holds a Master’s Degree from Ohio Dominican. She currently works for the State of Ohio as a Trainer/Facilitator. Kristian began running in January of 2015 to beat the winter blues and describes herself as very determined. She wants to show others a different version of a runner, representing runners of different fitness levels. Kristian is passionate about Columbus and believes that ambassadors are reflections of their city. She is excited about China because it will take her out of her comfort zone and push her boundaries while she represents Columbus and the running community in Hefei.
About Greater Columbus Sister Cities International:
Greater Columbus Sister Cities International (GCSCI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which serves to provide leadership in developing exchange programs and fostering relationships with the Columbus Region’s 10 sister cities in the areas of economic development, education, cultural enrichment and the environment. These relationships allow GCSCI to promote the benefits of international connections to our communities and to put a spotlight on Columbus’s role in the community and the world. For more information, visit: http://columbussistercities.com/
Columbus’ 10 sister cities are Accra, Ghana; Ahmedabad, India; Curitiba, Brazil; Dresden, Germany; Hefei, China; Herzliya, Israel; Genoa, Italy; Odense, Denmark; Seville, Spain; Tainan City, Taiwan.