Ashton’s passion for helping families and other children at the Ronald McDonald House is inspired by his own experiences. Ashton was born with Bilateral Urinary Reflux, which means urine flows backwards from the bladder into the kidneys causing urinary tract infections and, when left untreated, kidney damage. Because Ashton was almost three years old before doctors realized what was going on, he now has Chronic Kidney Disease and Idiopathic Constipation. In the last 5 years, he and his family have spent close to 300 nights at the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio while receiving treatment at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Friends and family often joke that keeping up with Ashton’s fundraisers and service project ideas can be a full-time job for his mother, Amanda Zari.

“I did not take care of myself during my pregnancy. I pretty much sat around and cried, feeling bad for myself because my little boy was sick and might die.”

“When she was just four weeks old, I found out I had to return to work or we would lose our family’s health insurance – it wasn’t a choice.”

“I was only back at school teaching for a week when I started having seizures that led to me spending eight days in a medically induced coma.”

“I had to move back in with my mom because I needed full time care. It was demoralizing. She was having to take care of both me and my children, and that’s not at all who I am.”

“Inspired by everyone who had helped me at the gym, I decided to use all of that time sitting in the hospital with Ashton to get my personal training certification. I started making training plans for the other moms  that can be done from the hospital bedside, and leading exercise classes and healthy lifestyle challenges.”

“I had my whole life planned out. When we found out Ashton was sick, and how sick he really was, that was one of the most soul crushing times for me because I realized my life was not going to look like what I had always imagined.”

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