Saturday, July 9, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Elizabeth Jonckheer

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)

Two years ago I did not consider myself a runner. I was an ex-swimmer who rode my bike, sometimes did yoga and smoked the occasional cigarette. Yes I admit it, I was a smoker! As of today, I have completed two NYC marathons as part of team Run to Remember and while I still ride my bike (we are a rare breed, according to the recent NY Times article) and take the occasional yoga class I no longer feel the urge to smoke. But I didn't start running to quit smoking, I was, for those of you who don't know, a division one swimmer who grew up in the pool. It all started when I received an email from the Alzheimer's Association announcing their acceptance into the marathon as a charity team and calling for applications for the first NYC team R2R. After years of cheering during the marathon, and years of hearing myself say, "I'm going to run next year!" I applied for the team. Needless to say, my life has never been the same.

I run for Nana, my paternal grandma who suffers from dementia. I run for my father who is her primary caregiver. I run for my family, friends and Nana's friends who care for her, love her and visit her. I run to cope with the fact that I live 3,000 miles away from Nana and can't often visit. I run for everyone who suffers directly and indirectly from this horrible disease. I run for everyone who is working to find a cure. I run for everyone who supports those in need. I run to send the message that if you want to run a marathon you can run a marathon. During my first marathon in 2009 I saw a man running with no legs over the 59th street bridge. If I have learned anything from this amazing journey it is that the journey is what counts and if there is a will there is a way. And finally, I run for Team Run To Remember.

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