- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - Jake Fishkin has seen firsthand the toll Alzheimer’s disease can have on a family.

He said it was difficult watching his paternal grandmother in Florida losing her memories after her diagnosis in 2009 and seeing his grandfather work hard to care for her at home, until she was moved into a long-term facility.

“This isn’t a unique story by any means … It affects the nation and community as a whole,” Jake said.

Jake, a senior at Saint James School near Hagerstown, started volunteering at Williamsport Retirement Village in its Alzheimer’s unit, which made him want to do more.

Having participated in many charitable runs, he decided that would be a fun way to raise money and bring the community together for a common goal.

The idea for the Run For Memories 5K Run & Walk started developing in Jake’s sophomore year, but it took a year to pull together the details.

He said there were a lot of sleepless nights last year as he planned the first event, which required him to learn about tax codes and insurance law.

“It’s given me a lot of real-world experience,” Jake said.

Last year’s inaugural race in early April drew more than 75 runners and netted close to $4,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Maryland, with 35 volunteers helping out.

This year the race is being held in May in hopes of warmer weather.

Jake credits the support of the community, including runners and walkers, volunteers, his family and the school, for the success of the first race.

His goal this year is to exceed last year’s numbers, especially participation by runners and walkers outside of the school community, he said.

The USA Track & Field-certified course starts on the Saint James School track and goes throughout the campus.

He said the event is not sponsored by the school, but officials have offered “their support 110 percent,” as well as the use of the track and grounds for the race.

Jake, the son of David and Judy Fishkin of Hagerstown, is headed to Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in the fall, where he will major in business and run on the track and cross-country team.

He is mentoring his younger brother, a ninth-grader at Saint James, so he can take over coordination of the race next year.

“It really brought everyone together. Just getting everyone to our campus and just fighting for a common goal, it’s just incredible … There is no way I could do this without the support of my community,” Jake said.

The event will be held on Saturday, May 9, at Saint James School. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and the run/walk begins at 9 a.m.

For more information, go to www.facebook.com/RunForMemories.

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Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., http://www.herald-mail.com

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