John Rowland: Race director:,Run 2 End Alzheimer's at the Landings
Residence: Warner Robins
Q: How long have you been organizing Run 2 End Alzheimer’s?
A: This will be our eighth year.
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Q: How much has been raised?
A: Last year we raised $29,310 in proceeds for the Alzheimer’s Association, and the total is over $150,000.
Q: Where does the money actually go?
A: It goes directly to the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association. From there, 6 percent goes to the national association for research and 94 percent stays in Georgia and is doled out where needed. So it benefits the whole state.
Q: What do they dole it out for?
A: All the services the association provides and things they do, which, by the way, are done with no charge to individuals or families. It goes for a range of services in areas like support, education and resources. There’s a helpline, care consultations and support groups. They offer education and information programs to the public and for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and for caregivers and professionals. They connect Alzheimer’s patients and families to other resources. That covers some of it. They’re there for them in a lot of ways.
Q: How widespread is Alzheimer’s in Georgia?
A: 140,000 people 65 or older have Alzheimer’s in Georgia. I think I’ve heard the total number is around 200,000. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in Georgia and Alzheimer’s deaths have increased 201 percent since 2000. There’s over half a million caregivers dealing with Alzheimer’s, and those are just some of the figures. For the real impact you have to add the difficulties and heartache involved with the disease. There are 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s.
Q: How did you get involved as an advocate and fundraiser?
A: My father passed away from Alzheimer’s on Christmas Day 2006. He was part of an Alzheimer’s research program. His two younger brothers had Alzheimer’s, too. My sister got me helping out and the first thing I did was walk the Appalachian Trail to raise money. Not the whole trail but 908.5 miles. That raised $11,400 and I had strangers on the trail handing me money. That was in 2010. After that I was asked, “What are you going to do next year?” and was a little dumbfounded, but my buddy Mike Austin, who’s head of the Macon-Bibb County Housing Authority now, said we should do a run.
Q: How many people are involved with putting it on?
A: It really is a team effort, believe me. That first year without a real team it was a struggle, but people have come alongside and we have about 10 committee members who put things together. Then the week of the race there are probably 40 volunteers that help. It’s great having such good volunteers and the support of the neighborhood where we have it. We keep them informed because it is an inconvenience, but they’ve embraced it. We offer purple Alzheimer’s bows for people’s mailboxes for $5 or $25, and of course no bow is worth $25. We have about 100 bows out in the neighborhood now.
Q: Where is the run? And when?
A: April 7. Packet pickup is at 7 a.m. and the first run begins at 8 a.m. There are 5k and 10.5k runs and a Fun Run. Of course you can walk it and push strollers, too. We’re located off Ga. 247, 1.6 miles south of the Museum of Aviation, with Landing Pointe Plaza as the starting point then going through the neighborhood behind it.
Q: Can you describe the route?
A: There are gradual changes in elevation but no steep hills. The route is all paved. Also, the race is chipped now, so time is officially kept electronically, which has a lot of benefits, and the 5k run distance has been certified, so that’s a plus to serious runners.
Q: How many runners on average?
A: We haven’t broken 500 yet. We’ve had 450-460 in the last few years with both serious and not as serious participants. We have families walking and enjoying it that way so there’s a good reason for everybody to join us. And besides raising the money, it helps get the word out. You know, with my family history, all this isn’t probably going to help me, but it will help others. Right now there’s no cure, no way to prevent it, but we are seeing ways to slow it down. Whatever we can raise for research and to help people suffering from Alzheimer’s and its effects is well worth it.
Q: How can people register and get more information?
A: Go to our website at www.run2endalz.org or email us at email@example.com.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.