Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Guest writer Elise Michael blogs on the Wellesley Mini-Marathon to End ALS

I remember meeting my great-uncle Ken, for the first and last time, when I was seven years old. My whole family met for his 70th Birthday party in a small restaurant in Westchester, New York, near where we all live. Sadly, my only real memory of my great-uncle was that he was in a wheelchair. I asked my parents why he couldn’t walk. They told me he was suffering from ALS. I did not ask further questions because I was too afraid of what this implied.

Fourteen years later, now that I am a senior at Wellesley College, the disease has much more viscerally returned to my life. On December 14th, when my boyfriend (a senior at Brandeis University) went home to Seattle for his winter break, his family broke the awful news to him that his mother had been diagnosed with ALS. This shocking, gut-wrenching, and painful discovery makes life more difficult for him everyday. The powerlessness and uncertainty of ALS is almost crushing. When he told me, I knew I had to try to do something to bring at least a small amount of control back into his life, as well as a way to find whatever meaning we both could out of this. I called my family for ideas. That was when my brother told me about his amazing and inspiring friend, Avi Kremer. As many of you probably know, Avi is the creator of Prize4Life. He was diagnosed with ALS while he was a classmate of my brother’s at Harvard Business School.

I immediately contacted Prize4Life. Everyone involved was beyond kind, generous and helpful. It was during my correspondence with them that I got the idea to organize a fun run. To be honest, my first idea was to assemble a 5k in the town of Wellesley; but after meeting with the Police Commissioner, I rapidly realized that there were just too many regulations and organizational complications to get that done before I graduated. But then I found out by chance that the Athletic Department at Wellesley College runs an annual mini-marathon. That was exactly the opportunity I needed! They agreed to set up the race with a $10 suggested donation that will go directly to Prize4Life. In addition, I found organizations all across Wellesley’s campus who were eager to donate funds, volunteer, and join the run! Everyone has been amazingly benevolent and supportive.

I want to invite you all to come run in the “Wellesley Mini-Marathon to End ALS” being held at Wellesley College on April the 10th! This is going to be a really great event that raises a lot of awareness — and hopefully a lot of money. I would love to see Wellesley, Brandeis, MIT, Harvard, Northeastern students and everyone else who supports ALS research to be there! For all you non-runners out there, don’t worry, you can definitely do it! The race is only 2.62 miles. For all of you serious runners, there is a very large trophy at stake. And for all of you, besides the wonderful reward of helping this extremely important cause, the after-party will be at Punches Alley pub on campus with free pizza for the runners, lots of baked goods, a raffle, and (for those 21 and over), lots of beer. I hope to see you all April 10th! Click here to sign up.

The message I want to leave you all with is that we can all do our part to help and be a positive factor when you rally behind a cause. I am thrilled to be associated with Prize4Life and to have helped assemble something so great and meaningful that will go significantly beyond race day.

Elise Michael

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