Akron Marathon founders and civic visionaries Steve and Jeannine Marks were the 2022 recipients of Akron Community Foundation’s Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award.
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 celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2022, attracts 100,000 spectators each year and includes 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 is 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. 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 has 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.