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Akron Marathon founders Steve and Jeannine Marks named 53rd Polsky Award recipients

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Steve and Jeannine Marks

Akron Marathon founders and civic visionaries Steve and Jeannine Marks have been named the 2022 recipients of Akron Community Foundation’s Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award. The couple will receive the award at the annual Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn.

The Markses will be the 53rd recipients of the award, which Akron Community Foundation presents each year to an individual or couple who has shown selfless dedication to humanitarian causes in Akron. This will be the first award presentation since Akron historian Dave 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.

Since founding the Akron Marathon in 2003, Steve and Jeannine have grown the race into a world-class event that has generated $133 million in economic impact for the Greater Akron community, celebrated more than 170,000 finishers, and 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.

In 2011, Steve and Jeannine established the Akron Marathon Sustainability Fund at Akron Community 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 is the co-founder of Main Street Gourmet, a leading provider of customized bakery products for national and regional food partners. Through his business, Steve has raised millions of dollars for charitable causes, including Muffins for Mammograms, a partnership with Cleveland Clinic Akron General that provides life-saving mammogram screenings for Akron-area women. In addition, the company 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.

Steve has received many prestigious awards for his professional accomplishments and commitment to the community, including 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. Steve 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, the Akron Civic Theatre and many other organizations.

Jeannine works with nonprofits to collaboratively address community needs and achieve sustainability. She most recently served as the executive director of Stewart’s Caring Place, a nonprofit cancer wellness center that offers free services for individuals and families on a cancer journey, before retiring earlier this year. Jeannine 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. Under Jeannine’s leadership, the nonprofit increased its fundraising and budget by 900% and expanded its programming to serve thousands of families in 18 counties.

Jeannine has received numerous awards for her lifetime of service, including 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. Jeannine is highly involved in the community and currently serves on the boards of Cleveland Clinic Akron General, the Jewish Community Board of Akron, and the Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation, among others.

Steve and Jeannine are both lifelong Akron-area residents and graduates of the University of Akron. The couple was selected to receive the Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award by a committee of past honorees. Recent recipients include former Akron Deputy Mayor Dave Lieberth; Stark & Knoll co-founding attorney Thomas G. Knoll; the Honorable Carla Moore; and Oak Associates Ltd. founder Jim Oelschlager and his wife, Vanita.

Corporate and individual sponsorships for the award dinner start at $2,500 and may be reserved at www.akroncf.org/PolskySponsor. For more information about sponsorship availability and benefits, call Margaret Medzie, vice president and chief development officer, at 330-436-5610.

About the Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award
The Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award is named for the former president of Polsky’s Department Store and founding trustee of Akron Community Foundation. The community foundation presents the award each year to the individual or couple who best exemplifies Bert Polsky’s selfless dedication to humanitarian causes in Akron. More information, including a complete history of past recipients, is available at www.akroncf.org/Polsky.

About Akron Community Foundation
Celebrating 67 years of building community philanthropy, Akron Community Foundation embraces and enhances the work of charitable people who make a permanent commitment to the good of the community. In 1955, a $1 million bequest from the estate of Edwin Shaw established the community foundation. It is a philanthropic endowment of nearly $280 million with a growing family of nearly 800 funds established by charitable people and organizations from all walks of life. The community foundation and its funds welcome gifts of all kinds, including cash, bequests, stock, real estate, life insurance and retirement assets, just to name a few. To date, the community foundation’s funds have awarded nearly $209 million in grants to qualified nonprofit organizations. For more information about Akron Community Foundation or to learn more about creating your own charitable fund, call 330-376-8522 or visit https://www.akroncf.org.

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