On June 11th at Sawyer Point Park in Cincinnati, we will hold the inaugural 5K “Run for Chief” race in honor of Jaden Woodard. Jay Chief, as he was often called, was born with a heart defect and underwent multiple heart surgeries by the age of two. At 11, his heart began to fail, and he required a heart transplant. In 2014, as a freshman at Summit, he received his new heart at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and was able to thrive socially and academically in the years following his surgery. He also ran for Summit’s cross country and track teams which is an extraordinary feat given his condition. Jay Chief graduated from Summit in 2018 and attended The Ohio State University as a finance major. Jaden interned at JPMorgan Chase Bank in New York City before the start of his senior year of college where he had the time of his life and made some of his closest friends. Jaden passed away on September 12, 2021, at the age of 21 after complications with his new heart.
I felt compelled to start an event to remember Jay Chief because of the person he was. I cannot express in words the positive impact that he made on my life and countless others. He never complained about the cards he was dealt or the pain he was often in. He was courageous, loving, loud, and unlike anyone, I have ever known before. The “Run for Chief” race will continue Jay Chief’s legacy while also benefiting those who face similar challenges to the ones he dealt with.
The proceeds from the race will be donated to families at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital who have children receiving heart transplants just like Jaden did. Heart transplants are expensive, with an average cost of $1,670,000 before insurance, and families face additional costs such as long drives, hotel stays, and hospital food. Our goal is to alleviate a portion of that financial stress through our donations. Since we are not yet registered as a tax-exempt organization which we hope to be next year, we will use the money to purchase items like gas and restaurant gift cards and anything else requested by the families.
A smaller portion of the proceeds will go towards the Jaden "Jay Chief" Woodard Scholarship Fund at Summit Country Day where students will be provided with the opportunity to achieve whatever dreams they might have through a great education.
Jaden’s legacy and positive impact will live on through the “Run for Chief” race and be felt by the many families he raises money for at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the years to come.