Tuesday, August 4, 2009

SPOTLIGHT: Alile Eldridge

Each week we will be picking three (3) members to spotlight to tell their alzheimer's story and why they are running in this year's New York City marathon. Check in each day or week for new updates on who will be spotlighted and get to know your teammates...(each person is picked at random)

SPOTLIGHT: Alile Eldridge

In January 2009, I decided to start running on a consistent basis. I joined New York Road Runners, and set out on a journey to make myself marathon ready by 2010.

Running a marathon has been a goal of mine for quite some time, so I decided to take part in the 9+1 program (run 9 races, volunteer at one, and you are guaranteed entry into the marathon for the following year).

I regularly attend a support group for young adults who have a parent suffering with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The group is one of many support groups in NYC organized by the Alzheimer’s Association. I shared my running goals with the group, and explained how I have seen a positive impact in my ability to deal with the emotions, and stress of seeing a loved one go through such a devastating disease. Once I learned about the charity team at the Alzheimer’s Association I was intrigued to learn more. I did some research, found the team application and decided running for this cause was something I needed to be a part of.

I had a bunch of nerves after my application was submitted! What if I am accepted? Can I pull this off in such a short period of time? Can I be marathon ready in 4 months? Can I raise at least $3,000 in a recession? Yes. I. Can! I have so much inspiration to draw from. Running the marathon is a tangible way to help battle a disease that has already taken my grandmother from me, and slowly taking my father from me.

In 2006 my grandmother passed away due to complications from Alzheimer’s at the age of 89. She suffered through the disease for nearly 15 years. My father was diagnosed with dementia two years ago, but more recently diagnosed with a specific type of dementia called Lewy body dementia (LBD). LBD shares characteristics with both Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Like Alzheimer's, it causes confusion. Like Parkinson's, it can result in rigid muscles, slowed movement, tremors and visual hallucinations. Both cases have been heartbreaking to witness first hand.

I am running to help raise awareness about a disease that has forever changed my family. I am so grateful to run in honor of my father and in memory of my grandmother.

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