The son of two immigrant parents, I was privileged to be raised in a home that valued family and loyalty, and has stayed together through thick and thin, health and sickness, and all of life’s other travails. On my father’s side of the family, his mother became afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease 25 years ago. An immigrant from Salemi, Italy, she was the epitome of a strong Italian woman – from her unbelievable cooking to her joy of life, she was a feisty lady. However, I saw firsthand how the disease strips away so much from those who are afflicted, and does so in an excruciating manner. She lived with the disease for over ten years fighting on, but I could not share much of this time getting to know her, as Alzheimer’s disease took away her memories and then speech altogether, removing our chance to have a much more intimate bond.
Learning that I could run the NYC Marathon to help support Alzheimer’s research, I jumped at the opportunity. My father was thrilled that I was doing so, and I look forward to the challenge, as I hope to do my part to honor my grandmother and raise support for the cause.