Colin & Griffin’s Gang, pictured at the Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon in 2019, raise money for Nationwide Children’s Hospital every year in honor of Grace and Derek Chapman’s late sons, Colin and Griffin, who died shortly after birth in May 2017. (Photo submitted)
In honor of their late sons, Grace and Derek Chapman are raising funds for Nationwide Children’s Hospital with an invitation only, family friendly block party on Saturday from 4-8 p.m. on Linden Street.
The Chapmans, who share a 6-year-old son Ben, lost twin boys, Colin and Griffin, four years ago.
“They were born premature at 23 weeks gestation on May 29 of 2017, and the weather was bad,” said Grace, who is a chemotherapy nurse at The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. “It was the middle of the night, so we weren’t able to get down to downtown Columbus, so they were born at Memorial Hospital. And they lived for a couple of minutes, like on our chest, and then they died.”
The couple established Colin & Griffin’s Gang as a “way to channel our grief” when Grace, relatives and friends felt compelled to run the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon.
“Truly, I don’t know where we’d be if we didn’t have this as far as just remembering them and making it feel like your kids had a purpose even though they aren’t here,” Grace said.
The first “Colin & Griffin’s Gang’s Fall Festival” block party on Saturday was organized as a fundraising event because donations through Facebook were slow to come in this year.
Grace has run the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon in the past, but she usually runs the half marathon every year to raise funds for the hospital.
“I’ll run every year until the day that I die,” she said.
A friend has volunteered to make shirts for the runners and spectators in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021.
“He gives us half the proceeds, so we then also get to donate toward our fundraising efforts,” Grace said.
On average, 15 to 20 runners compete as part of Colin & Griffin’s Gang. This year, 14 runners are registered with the team.
“We always have a big crew that goes down to the Angel Mile, which is mile marker 11,” Grace said. “They wear their shirts and come down and cheer, so I always stop there when we’re running and see the kids.”
The Angel Mile commemorates all “angels” who are no longer here on earth. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, families gather at mile 11 “to support one another, share memories, and celebrate the days they shared with their children” as they cheer on runners.
Grace added that she is thankful for the community that has built around her family since their loss.
Block party guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and enjoy provided adult beverages, snacks, and a hotdog and chili bar. Kona Ice Truck will be at the event between 4-6 p.m.
Activities will include games and face painting for kids, a gift basket raffle and horse-drawn carriage rides around the block. Dutch Mill Greenhouse will also supply succulents.
Free will donations will be accepted at the event, with all proceeds benefiting the hospital.
“Hopefully this year is the first of many and maybe it takes off to open invitation,” Grace said.
This year’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 17.
So far, Colin & Griffin’s Gang has raised $7,500 for the hospital with a goal of $10,000 this year.
In 2017, the goal of Colin & Griffin’s Gang was to raise $5,000. Grace said if an individual or team donates $5,000, they can dedicate a wagon that transports the young hospital patients.
“The first year was amazing. I remember posting our story (online). I posted it right before I went to bed,” she said. “I woke up the next morning and there was an email saying, ‘You passed your goal.’”
Ultimately, the team raised about $19,000 that year.
Between 2017 and 2021, the team has raised nearly $50,000 for the hospital.