Largest 8K in the World

Shamrock Shuffle 8K: Running season opens in the Windy City

An estimated 40,000 runner’s helped kick-off Chicago’s traditional rite of spring for the 33rd Annual Shamrock Shuffle 8K providing a celebratory atmosphere of a summer festival. Today was a day of first’s:

1. First time running without a race bib – we won’t say exactly why this ended up happening, but should you have any questions, please direct them to one  Mr. Kevin Connolly

2. First time running with Opedix tights – generously donated from CEO Kim Gustafson. This product aligns the knee joint, distributing knee “load” by reducing knee pain as well as quadriceps fatigue.

3. First time running with a GoPro camera and CamelBak – you asked for footage during the race, and you will see it this weekend!

Unseasonably warm weather made for excellent running conditions. Running enthusiasts hit the start line at Grant Park as corral after corral were released into downtown Chicago. Passing by Trump Towers, Kevin and I made our way toward Mile 1 marker and stopped to give my parents a hug/photo op – no doubt immediately posted on Facebook by my father (post-race intel determined it was 3 mins afterward). Miles 2, 3 and 4 flew as we ran past the world-famous Chicago Theatre, over several Chicago river bridges and through Chicago’s “Loop,” staring down the Sears Tower with a mile-long stretch on famed State Street all while filming several minutes of footage at a time.

From the Chicago Sun-Times, “Finishing his first 8K run was downtown resident Donny Jekels, 46. He entered because ‘two years ago I couldn’t tie my shoelaces. I wasn’t fit and I thought that was a wakeup call.‘  He said he lost 30 pounds in 2 years, using exercise and watching his diet.  The father-son running tandem of Mike and Mario Woods had their own friendly competition, which the 65-year-old dad from South Holland won.”

43 mins later, slightly behind Abdelaaziz Atmani of Indianapolis with a winning time of 23 mins 18 secs, Kevin and I finished the 4.97 mile trek with the promise of a free beer at Grant Park and music being played from a stage near Buckingham Fountain.

And what about the 3 First’s? Well…we didn’t get pulled off the course because the race was relatively laid back making for a fun run: check. The Opedix running pants definitely worked! The material was comfortable, my legs felt great, and it was clear that some pressure was being distributed away from the tough wear and tear zone of my knees: check, check. The film footage?….I wish I had thought of this sooner: check, check, check.

As for the post-race festivities, I will just leave it at this: checkmate!

To watch exclusive footage during the race, go to: Running through downtown Chicago

To see more photos, go to: Shamrock Shuffle 8K

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2012 Northwestern CNADC PPA Conference

One Voice: Caring for EVERYONE with PPA

The 2012 CNADC PPA Caregiver Conference was an important day for those of us with loved one’s battling PPA. We had the sharpest minds in the field educating us on how to help those we love the most. As the morning kicked off, my vending booth was prominently located and positioned side-by-side CNADC’s to help promote the Run4Papa campaign. My booth had 3 main exhibits: 1. A personal letter of endorsement from Dr. Marsel Mesulam 2. A computer with pulled up for attendees to view and learn more about THE CAUSE 3. The newly launched Running Shirt – an opportunity for EVERYONE battling PPA to have their loved one’s name on the back of my shirt for the Great Wall of China Marathon – a BIG HIT!

The conference exposure was heart-warming because I had the pleasure of meeting caregivers whose loved one’s were diagnosed with PPA. While there were plenty of new names and faces, there were plenty of people attending that were following THE CAUSE online through social media like Facebook and Twitter. On top of all that, the most emotional conversations (if I am allowed to be biased) took place when speaking with patients battling PPA, all of whom were enthusiastically encouraging the efforts of the Run4Papa campaign.

With 324 attendees, the conference was tailored to family caregivers as well as health care professionals. Dr. Marsel Mesulam, Director of the CNADC and the man who first identified PPA, graciously welcomed everyone to the conference. Following his introduction, a lecture on the state of PPA research and treatment by Northwestern physician and assistant professor of geriatrics was delivered by Dr. Diana Kerwin. Our keynote address on “Behaviors, Language and Communication” was presented by Dr. Geri Hall (from Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix), who has lectured and published widely on behavioral interventions and communication strategies in dementia, specifically PPA. The morning session ended with an interactive Q & A session from a panel of doctors and PPA caregivers. This opportunity provided audience members the ability to ask questions ranging from medical opinions, to family member reactions about PPA as well as expectations down the line for caregivers. When all the questions had been asked and answered, we broke for lunch and gave attendees more time to mingle amongst the vendors at the conference.

During the afternoon, the CNADC team organized 12 different breakout sessions for members to attend. Here were some of the choices:

a) Newly Diagnosed, Now What? b) Understanding Genetics in PPA c) Responding to Behavior and Personality Changes in PPA d) When is it Time? Identifying Options and Making Transitions for Care.

My parents split the meetings above while I attended the Support for Family Caregivers and Exploring Creative Art Therapies sessions. The caregiver session was unbelievably emotional because everyone shared their unique personal story. In the same respect, it was extremely helpful listening to everyone and learning how each person/family copes and adjusts to an ever-changing lifestyle of caregiving. Even though this was my first caregiver group experience, I could see the instant impact our dialogue was having on the faces around the table. One caregiver whose wife was diagnosed with PPA within the past couple years said, “I didn’t think I needed to come here before, because to be frank, I was in denial about my wife. This year, I realized that was a mistake. I will continue to come every year moving forward and attend the support groups for help and advice in the future.”

Similarly, the creative art therapy session was equally informative yet surprisingly entertaining. Through hands-on classroom activities, we learned how art, music and movement therapy help people diagnosed with PPA by maintaining their sensory and motor skills. The behaviors included expressing our inner thoughts by drawing pictures on paper, using hand gestures to communicate our emotions, and singing along to improvised songs instructing us to repeat specific lyrics.

As the breakout sessions finished, everyone headed back to the lecture hall for the conclusion of the conference. My What would you do for THE CAUSE? video was being shown and looped for roughly 15 mins on the big screen as everyone took their seats. Dr. Jennifer Medina concluded the day with her speech on “Stress and Caregiving: Mindfulness as a Coping Tool.”

I was so proud to share this day with my parents, family caregivers, patients, experts in the field-and of course-the CNADC team. The conference is an excellent resource for families and people fighting against PPA who want to be a part of a special team dedicated to finding treatment and a cure for this brutal disease.

If you couldn’t make it this year for whatever the reasons, please don’t miss it 364 days from now.

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In Honor of

Want your loved one’s name on my running shirt?


Here is your chance to make a contribution and have your loved one’s name placed on the back of my running shirt in honor of their battle against PPA during the Great Wall of China Marathon in 2012.

For special dedication, go toPPA Research and Education Fund – Run4papa

  • Please reference “Running Shirt Campaign” in comments section – bottom of page 2 on donation site.

Thank you for your support!

National PPA Conference

 An Average Person Doing Extraordinary Things

 2012 Annual PPA Conference – Saturday, March 24th

Thorne Auditorium, Rubloff Building
375 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

Come out this weekend and help Support the Journey to raise awareness for all those battling PPA everyday!

Click on Event Itinerary

Jason Boschan has partnered with the CNADC to raise funds in support of primary progressive aphasia (PPA) research. Jason’s grandfather, Dr. Louis “Papa” Heyman, a pediatrician for 50+ years, was diagnosed with PPA, a dementia that makes a person progressively lose the ability to communicate and comprehend language, in 2009.

Jason is running the Great Wall of China Marathon in May 2012 to honor his grandfather and EVERYONE battling PPA. The marathon is very exclusive and includes steep inclines that total over 5,000 steps. It is the equivalent of running up and down the Hancock Building & Willis Tower, and then taking a round trip between the Chicago and Evanston campuses of Northwestern University.

Jason has trained and run races in 9 states to prepare for the Great Wall of China Marathon. This campaign has helped bring awareness to PPA research and there have been over 360 individuals who have donated to the cause.

Run4Papa Tackles Washington D.C. Half Marathon

Running around our National Treasures

Eagerly and somewhat impatiently standing in my coral waiting for the race to begin, I look forward to several wonderful experiences ahead such as meeting and jogging alongside other runners, hearing people shouting on each side of the street, and anticipating the creative signage from supporters mile after mile. As corral #12 began inching closer and closer to the starting line, I happened to be standing next to a lady who was listening to her music while stretching. I couldn’t help but notice the back of shirt: “I lost 200 lbs. I beat cancer. 13.1? No problem!” Like many memories throughout this journey, I am constantly surrounded by runners motivated by personal causes and challenges who commit themselves to making a difference in their life or the lives of others by running a particular race. There were over 22,000 runners today, many of them, like myself, have inspiring stories to share.

Imagine how many other stories we have never heard about?

Walking up to the the starting line, my hands were clammy, my mind was focused, and my adrenaline was elevated. As I crossed the start line and my chip time began, I was careful to maintain a solid pace and not allow the adrenaline to consume the moment and my body. This is often easier-said-than done, but is a vital factor in maintaining energy throughout these long-distance runs. Right out of the gate, I saw a sign that read “Free beer in 26.1 miles.” You have to appreciate people’s creativity and like every city beforehand, D.C. residents did not disappoint.

Halfway past Mile 1, I headed on East Capitol St, running alongside the United States Supreme Court as well as the Capitol Building. By Mile 3, a series of big sites came up like one domino after the other: on Constitution Ave, I ran side-by-side the National Mall for about a 1/4 of a mile. As I approached Mile 4, the Washington Monument was standing alone to my left, not to be outdone by the White House appropriately showcasing a green fountain at mile marker 5.  What phenomenal national treasures to run around during this half marathon. 

While most of the sites were frontloaded in the beginning of the half marathon, the crowd support was excellent throughout the 13.1 mile trek. Sure, some of the spectators were already intoxicated from drinking beer and downing green Jell-O shots infused with Smirnoff, but their enthusiasm was helpful in boosting momentum mile after mile. Furthermore, one of the perks to running a Rock ‘N Roll race is the organizers conveniently place rock bands every mile along the race; thus, bringing out even more supporters on the streets and providing an extra pick-me-up. On top of that, running toward and under several tunnels was thrilling because the crowd was going wild! I could hear the energy from above, and after emerging from the darkness and up the incline, people were cheering as if an Olympic torch was being carried through their city!

Upon reaching a sharp incline on Mile 8, I came across an army soldier in full uniform running with a backpack stuffed with weights. Talk about hardcore! He was running for the men and women sacrificing their lives abroad for our safety. I wish I would’ve been able to grab a picture but you will have to take my word that it was downright unbelievable to see in person.

Eyeing Mile 9, I decided to switch up my routine by running 7 mins, walking for 1. The logic behind this adjustment was to test the recovery process for China. Normally, I run non-stop until the end (for half marathons); however, in China, recovery is going to play an intricate role and will be an essential part of that challenge. With this recovery period, I regained my strength and pushed forward at a quicker pace over the next several miles. With RFK stadium ahead and the homestretch in sight, I rounded the corner and saw a sign that said “May the spirit of Saint Patrick guide your feet to the finish line.” I picked up my pace through the last mile and crossed the finish line at 2:13:13, completing my 3rd half marathon this year.

No matter how many times I visit D.C., I always look forward to seeing our national monuments and this half marathon provided a tremendous opportunity to run alongside some of the most recognizable ones in Washington. It was an honor to be part of this experience and a special day which I will never forget. And to pay my respect to Saint Patrick, I made sure to have a celebratory pint or two following the race…

Next stop? Chicago!

I will be in the Windy City Saturday March 24th, 2012 for the annual PPA Family Caregiver and Professional Education and Support Conference.

On Sunday March 25th,myself and Kevin Connolly of the CNADC will be running in the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K with 40,000 of our closest friends.

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Run4Papa Meets Washington

My first Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon

Ever wanted to run around Washington’s most famous national treasures? Run4Papa got that opportunity by running in the 2012 Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon!

Nothing Political About This

Next Stop…Washington, D.C.

2012 Rock ‘n Roll Half/Marathon

Despite being a not-so-closet political junkie/semi-obsessed debate addict/campaign speechwriter wannabe (for a couple months at least), I am leaving all-things political related back in Charlotte. I promise. Not one repetitive campaign slogan, no one-liners, and absolutely no cheesy overused talking points. Not one. This weekend is all about one thing, er, maybe two or even three…but the one thing we know for sure is running is definitely one of them!

Rock Our Nation’s Capitol will mark the completion of my 3rd half marathon this calendar year in preparation for the Great Wall of China Marathon this May. I am very excited to be participating in my first ever Rock ‘N Roll event and even prouder to be sharing this experience with my good friend Adam, who will be running and finishing his 1st FULL marathon as a precursor to China.

I am pumped to be heading back to Washington D.C. I have an affinity for this scenic city, the historical national monuments, and hopefully a sneak peak at the famous cherry blossoms – the nation’s greatest springtime celebration commemorating their 100th year of the gift of trees. No doubt the atmosphere will be infectious! My bag is packed and I am ready to go…

I don’t even need to catch the end of this political commentary, and in case you are wondering, it is not being DVR’d. At least, not to the best of my knowledge.

This non-political message is approved by the Run4Papa Campaign.

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Dr. Marsel Mesulam endorsement

Dr. Marsel Mesulam who first identified PPA supports Run4Papa

Dr. Marsel Mesulam, Director of the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University proudly lends his support to the Run4Papa campaign.