World-renowned Olympic marathoner and Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi visited sick kids at Akron Children's Hospital on Thursday.
Keflezighi is in town to receive the 2016 Akron Marathon Ambassador Award through Westfield Bank.
He will also be on hand at the Health & Fitness Expo presented by Summa Health and SummaCare on Friday to meet runners and sign autographs.
Keflezighi came to America in 1987 to escape fighting in East Africa. He grew up in a town with no running water and recalled running up to three miles to gather wood so his family of 11 brothers and sisters could cook food.
The obstacles and challenges in his life remind the marathon superstar to not take life or running for granted.
If he needed any reminders of the challenges life can through at a person, he got several of them while spending more than an hour chatting with sick children at the hospital.
"Marathon is by choice. This is not by choice and those are real troopers because they are facing serious, serious, serious diseases and things like that," Keflezighi said. "I'm just honored to be here to just spend a lot of time with them and try to encourage them to keep fighting."
Keflezighi brought his silver medal from the 2004 Olympics and even let some of the patients wear the prized possession.
Keflezighi is the only person to win an Olympic medal, the New York Marathon and the Boston Marathon. When he crossed the finish line in Boston in 2014, he became the first American male to win the famed marathon since 1983.
The Akron Marathon, half marathon and team relay are scheduled to start at 7 a.m. Saturday.
This is the 14th year for the Akron Marathon.