Doctor gives more than 25K medals to brighten brave patients' moods

Dr. Steve Isenberg started Medals4Mettle

INDIANAPOLIS - A doctor is offering a different type of medicine to those who are in a race to get healthy, earning him the Jefferson Award for his service.

Since 2005, Dr. Steve Isenberg has presented medals, some of them from the many marathons he's run, to those who are in a different type of race.

Special Section: The Jefferson Awards

It all started when he visited a friend in the hospital shortly after he ran the Chicago Marathon.

"I didn't know what else to say to him, and I pulled my medal out of my pocket and I gave it to him," Isenberg said. "And he lit up."

It was after that visit that Isenberg came up with the idea for Medals4Mettle. Marathoners donate their race medals to the organization, and then volunteers clean and polish them and put on new ribbons.

The medals end up around the necks of deserving patients.

"Dr. Isenberg is an amazing guy, and I love his whole idea about supporting those who are sick," said Medals4Mettle volunteer Janet Striebel.

In the past seven years, Isenberg's organization has given out 25,000 medals, mostly to pediatric patients. Many of the medals are given to patients at Riley Hospital for Children.

"There's a lot of people out there who respect the courage it takes to deal with problems like this in your life, not only for the kids here, but their families," said Sally Powell, the Indianapolis coordinator for Medals4Mettle.

"We go to hospitals, we take our medals out to the kids, we work the marathons, and he's just an awesome person to lead us," said Powell.

Kelly Williams was the first to volunteer to help Isenberg and Medals4Mettle.

"Nobody can say no to somebody that's that giving and caring, so it's been a wonderful experience," Williams said.

Isenberg's all-volunteer charity has 60 chapters around the country, as well as several others around the world in places like Canada, South Korea, the United Kingdom and France.

As it stands now, the finish line is nowhere in sight for the Medals4Mettle marathon.

Isenberg and his volunteers continue to hand out medals and look for more opportunities to collect new ones, knowing that the need will never go away.

"It's just been an endless feeling of feeling good," Isenberg said.

To nominate someone for a Jefferson Award, click here .

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