Running for Alzheimer’s

April 5, 2012

Here is an inspiring story by C. Cassidy we received via press release.

On April 16th an estimated 25,000 runners will converge on Boston for the world’s oldest annual marathon.  But one woman will be running with a drive, determination and passion that will be hard to match.

Samantha Howe is leaving her hometown of Dublin, Ireland and traveling to Boston with one mission in mind: to raise Alzheimer’s awareness and raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland.

A long time avid runner, Ms. Howe decided 2012 was the perfect year to start a new campaign, “Running for Alzheimer’s”.  With that decision, she committed that every step she takes, every mile she marks, will be another stride in her fight against this rapidly rising and fatal disease.

The Boston Marathon is the first challenge in her “Running for Alzheimer’s” campaign.  It’s a challenge she welcomes, taking on 26 miles with some of the world’s most elite runners.

Her passion comes from personal experience.  Ms. Howe’s mother was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009.  At that moment she says her life changed.  Her life in recent years has revolved around a schedule with her father and siblings to provide care for her mother at home.  An often overwhelming caregiving experience she shares on her blog www.purplenellie.blogspot.com.

“The irony is, my mother was a nurse, she was used to being the primary caregiver,” says Ms. Howe. “Now she must rely on her husband and children.”

Ms. Howe quickly realized how destructive Alzheimer’s is. She says, “It clouds you in so much darkness you struggle to see the light.”  She saw her mother’s memory loss, was stunned by her changes in behavior and mood, panicked when her mother wandered away from home for the first time, and is now embroiled in house renovations to accommodate her mother’s pending physical decline.

Like other Alzheimer’s families, Ms. Howe also learned the cruel facts about the disease.  It is rising at an alarming rate, up 66% in just 8 years in the US alone. There is no cure, no treatment, and no way to even slow its progression.  The costs of caring for the disease are staggering, making it a crisis for every country.  According to the World Alzheimer Report the global costs in 2010 were $604 Billion, a figure that will increase annually, threatening every health system.

Experts believe Alzheimer’s research is critically underfunded.  Ms. Howe believes Awareness can change that. “With awareness comes funding for research, which can lead us to a cure,” she says.

So if you see a woman in a purple t-shirt running by, it’s probably Samantha Howe training for the Boston Marathon.  If you can get her to stop, she’ll talk to you about Alzheimer’s disease.  And luckily you don’t have to run a marathon to join her Running for Alzheimer’s campaign.  Simply sponsor her efforts and support the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland.

What would you do for a good cause? Samantha Howe is running the Boston Marathon April 16th.

Follow her Twitter account @purple_nellie  and #runningforalzheimers for updates.

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