Friday, July 1, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Brian (Michelle) Hsia

Each week we will be picking 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)

This year, I will give my spotlight in the words of my sister, Michelle…

Life is about many precious moments of time, each person shares those moments with family, friends and all the acquaintances that he or she meets along the way. As our life lingers, we get older and over time our memory starts to fade, so we rely on pictures to recollect those precious moments shared together. Now imagine yourself waking up one morning to find that you do not know who your friends are, who your family members are and most importantly, who you are, and this continues for years. That is the reality of what an Alzheimer’s disease patients goes through. Usually, the disease affects elderly people, although there are more and more cases of this disease affecting the youth.

In 2003, our grandmother was diagnosed with the Alzheimer’s disease; a disease that afflicts 5.4 million Americans. It is the 6th leading cause of death in this country and of the top 10 diseases, it is the only cause of death to date that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.

My sister, Michelle started running marathons in 2004, with 2 goals in mind: finish her first ever marathon and raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. She did both, and then decided to try running a marathon in a different state (maybe even in all 50!) and dedicate each marathon to fundraising to find a cure for the Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2006, Brian ran his first marathon with her and decided to join the Alzheimer’s Association Junior Committee to hopefully understand more about the disease that afflicted our grandmother. After learning more about it, he made it his goal to have the Alzheimer’s Association as an official charity in the ING New York City marathon. In April of 2009, he succeeded in doing just this and now the Alzheimer’s Association is entering its 3rd year as an official charity organization in the NYC marathon and raised well over half a million dollars. Not only has he run 3 NYC marathons (an additional 25 marathons in other states), but he has also motivated and train others to complete their first marathon and change their lifestyle!

In October of 2009, my grandfather, who was my grandmother’s caretaker, passed away. This was a very heartbreaking time for the both of us and our family because our grandfather was the stronger one—he passed so suddenly and left so quickly from our lives. His passing left our family with more responsibilities caring for my grandmother that eventually led to our family not being able to do it alone.

In February of this year, our grandmother succumbed to the disease and passed away…an 8 year battle came to an end that February afternoon. Our grandparents were loving, caring and helpful people. They always did the right thing, always cared for others and always were selfless. We have spent the past 7 years running in honor of our grandmother, but this year, we are running to remember the amazing woman she was, and the wonderful qualities she has left behind in both of us. For the Big Sur marathon, we have raised over $9,000 from generous support from our family and friends!

On May 1st, Michelle and Brian set forth in running the Big Sur Marathon together. Out of all the marathons they have ran “together” but separately (Marine Corps, Outer Banks, Chicago & Honolulu) this would be their first marathon running together for the entire way. Brian helped his sister record her first Personal Record (PR) in completing her first sub 4 hour marathon to honor their grandma and say thank you to all of their supporters who have helped out for those previous 8 years.

We hope that a cure be found soon so that other families will not have to experience what so many go through daily.

For Brian’s post, please click here:

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