When high school junior Mike Napoli learned his friend’s mother had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at age 50, he wanted to do something to help. “Since my friend Riley’s mom, Marcia Stanford, is an avid runner and fitness instructor, I felt that a running event would be the best way to support her and her family,” says Napoli.
With several volunteers, including his mother, Napoli contacted local businesses about the event, held a school fundraiser, put an article in his local paper and sent out e-blasts. “It seems that everyone knows someone who has or had Alzheimer’s, so people really helped spread the word,” he says.
Mike Stanford, Marcia’s husband of 20 years, created a website to help educate people about the disease. “I’ve learned firsthand that Alzheimer’s is not just an ‘old person’s’ disease,” he says. “Today, Marcia’s speech impairment is significant. She can no longer drive, cook or do the things she used to do as a mother to our kids. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, no way to prevent it and no way to slow it down. Finding a cure is a must.”
After researching many charities, Napoli chose Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, “because 100 percent of donations go directly to research.” The Branchburg Race Against Alzheimer’s was held in Branchburg, N.J., on Sunday, June 9. The 5K run and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk welcomed individuals and families, and all proceeds raised from the event—nearly $59,000—went directly to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund in hopes of finding a cure.Another Branchburg race will be held on May 18, 2014.