Approximately 200,000 Americans younger than 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, and with Sussex County’s growing senior population, Alzheimer’s is a cause near and dear to many people’s hearts.
Local business owner Michael Loftus of Loftus Wealth Strategies knows the disease firsthand.
“My father, Jim, passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2013. From the experience of him going through it, I knew I wanted to do something to bring awareness and raise money for Alzheimer’s research and help.”
Based on his own experience, Loftus chose to organize a 5K run/walk in Bethany Beach to raise money.
“It has been amazing. The first year, we raised $16,000. Last year, we raised $26,000. We’re considered a third-party event for the Alzheimer’s Association, and we were the No. 1 third-party fundraising event in Delaware and the tristate-area Mid-Atlantic region.”
This year, the race will be held on Sunday, Aug. 6. Anyone is welcome to register for the event, at a cost of $35 per person. Online registration ends Aug. 5 at 7:30 p.m.; however, day-of registration is available between 6:30 and 7 a.m. on the Bethany Beach boardwalk.
Last year, the event drew 650 participants. This year, Loftus said he hopes the event will raise at least $25,000, but he would love to get more.
“As a third-party event, I have a right to determine where the funds go. I split it between the local chapter in Georgetown, research and the Delaware Valley Association,” he said. “The monies stay here and help in Sussex County.
“I live here. In my day business, I’m a financial planner, and I have a few clients who are dealing with this right now. Sussex County is the fastest-growing county in the country for retirees. We need the resources to be able to help these folks. There’s some, but there’s not a lot. Yes, I want to make an impact on Alzheimer’s, but locally — not only for my clients, but for the community as well.”
The 3rd Annual Athlete’s Against Alzheimer’s Run/Walk 5K is being sponsored by County Bank, the Law Office of Susan Pittard Weidman, Loftus Wealth Strategies, Studio 26 Salon & Spa, Tidewater Physical Therapy, Fairway Independent Mortgage Company, Baja Beach House Grill, Home Instead Senior Care, Wilgus Associates, Todd and Candace Hickman & Family, Creative Resource Group, the Law Offices of Scott & Shuman, D.J. Padraig, the Coastal Point, Crowley Associates Realty, Long & Foster Realtors and G.&E. Hocker’s Supermarkets.
The race begins at the intersection of Garfield Parkway and Atlantic Avenue in Bethany Beach. Runners will turn west on Cedarwood Lane, then travel north on Pennsylvania Avenue before turning back onto Atlantic.
Awards will be given out at the conclusion of the event, for top overall male and female finishers, and top overall male and female finishers age 40 or older, as well as awards for the top three male and female finishers for each age group.
In addition to individual participants, Loftus said early this week that there were about 16 teams that had been created for the event, comprising people from all walks of life. He said anyone and everyone is welcome to participate in the 5K.
“It’s a run and walk. We get a lot of walkers. You can bring strollers, dogs — whatever you want. So, anyone who wants to participate, we welcome you.
“We work with Focus Mutisports, who handles all of the race end of things. From their experience and mine, it’s definite people are here for the cause, unlike for the other races that draw what I’ll call ‘hardcore runners.’”
Interacting with participants has been a moving experience for Loftus, who said he got chills just thinking about it.
“They’ll have T-shirts with their family members… They’re here for the cause, there’s no doubt,” he said. “Bringing awareness locally is a big thing.”
Loftus he said he hopes the community will turn out for the fundraiser and help raise money to fight a disease that affects so many.
“It’s definitely a community event. I think each year I do this, somebody always comes up and tells me a story about their family and how meaningful this is. That’s why we do it, it really is. The impact, in our own little way down here in Bethany Beach — we’re making a difference.”
For more information about the Athlete’s Against Alzheimer’s Run/Walk 5K, visit www.facebook.com/ALZRunWalk. To register for the 5K, visit www.alzrun.com. For more information about Alzheimer’s or how to support the organization, visit www.alz.org.