Running Team Keeps Memory of Akron Children’s Doctor Alive
September 12, 2016 by Kavita Sherman, writer
In the fast-paced ER environment at Akron Children’s Beeghly campus, pediatrician Charles Newton brought humor and empathy to tense situations. When he died in March 2015, his colleagues and staff wanted a way to help his memory live on. They formed Charlie’s Angels, an Akron Marathon relay team, in his honor.
“He was one of those people who, when he walked in the door, everyone was so happy to see him,” said Carrie Zorman, nurse practitioner in the ER. “His patients loved him. We loved him.”
His ER colleagues wanted a way to remember Dr. Newton.
“He became ill and stopped working suddenly,” Carrie said. “His passing was emotional for the entire department. So, we formed a relay team in his honor.”
Carrie asked her colleagues – Brian Wilson, Holly Oleksa and Aimee LeMon, nurses in the department, and Chris Loomis from the respiratory department – for help.
“Carrie is the backbone of this team,” Brian said. “I jumped in to help because I think what we’re doing is an awesome way to let others know what a great guy he was. I feel so fortunate to have known him. I didn’t work with Dr. Newton that long – I was new to nursing. During the time we did work together, he made me feel confident in my role.”
Carrie also appreciated the encouragement she received from Dr. Newton.
“Dr. Newton knew that I was studying to get my nurse practitioner’s degree,” she said. “He would teach me things. I remember him saying, ‘Carrie, come over here’ in his New York accent. He would ask me questions and teach me about patient care. He would say, ‘Let’s look at this patient. Let’s think about this. What do you think we should do?'”
Five runners from Mahoning Valley formed the original relay team in 2015. Dr. Newton’s wife, Janet, was pleasantly surprised when she found out the team planned to run again to memorialize her husband.
The Charlie’s Angels team has nearly tripled in size this year, with 14 people participating on 2 relay teams and 4 others running in the Akron Marathon Half Marathon.
There’s a saying that as long as you remember someone, he will always live on. Carrie and Brian have found this to be true.
“People who didn’t even know Charlie want to be involved,” Brian said. “One of the girls running in the half marathon never even met him.”
That enthusiasm also translated into increased T-shirt sales.
Charlie’s Angels created a special shirt with Dr. Newton’s signature greeting, “Ciao baby,” his birth and death dates and the name of the team imprinted on it.
Even people working in different departments purchased a T-shirt, with nearly 50 sold this year.
“To this day, we still talk about him,” Carrie said. “We remember funny quotes he said or share a memory. As we talk about Charlie, everyone in the department gets to know him even those who didn’t work with him.”
This year, Carrie and Brian upped their commitment.
“Last year while doing the relay, we agreed that in 2016 we’re doing the half marathon,” Brian said.
“We train together,” Carrie said. “While training — and hating it — we sometimes look at each other and say, ‘This is for you, Charlie!’ He went that extra mile with all of us, and we want to, too.”
This story is part of a series called A Mile in Their Shoes that features Akron Children’s Hospital employees who are participating in the Akron Marathon Race Series.