With Beijing in my sights, I am now focused on the journey ahead to the Great Wall of China Marathon. It’s hard to believe just over 300 days ago I was staring at a computer screen that had 12 characters flashing at me: Run4Papa.com
As you may know, I will be running the Great Wall of China Marathon on behalf of my grandfather, Dr. Louis “Papa” Heyman, and EVERYONE who is battling PPA. PPA is a form of dementia wherein people lose the ability to communicate and comprehend language over time.
Over these past 300 days, I have been training and running races in 9 different states, from the sunset cliffs in San Diego to the mountains in Denver through our nation’s Capital and in water along the lakes of Michigan. All these roads are have been leading to the Great Wall of China. I have run 5K’s, 8K’s, 10K’s, Half Marathons, Mud Runs, and even a Tower Race where I Hustled up the Hancock (climbing 94 Flights of stairs). My unorthodox training methods have logged me over 500 miles for THE CAUSE.
As a result of this extraordinary journey, I have run side-by-side with and have been endorsed by the most prolific American Marathoner in history, Bill Rodgers, 4-time winner of the NYC and Boston Marathons. I am partnered with the #1 PPA research facility in the world –Northwestern University’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center — and is supported by the man who first identified PPA, Dr. Marsel Mesulam.
This campaign has had a local, national and international impact on patients and families around the world. We have received over 1,000 individual contributions from California to Florida as well as from the UK to New Zealand. On top of that, sponsors continue to join Run4Papa in an ongoing effort to create awareness of this debilitating disease.
Thank you again for your relentless support and words of encouragement!
Papa and all his grandchildren + great grandchild!
With great respect, humility and support, I am pleased to announce Run4Papa has OFFICIALLY reached the $50,000 goal toward PPA research! IN FACT, we are currently at $51,619 and rising!!!
I cannot thank you enough for ALL your help along this remarkable journey! This has been an overwhelming experience and I feel so proud and honored to have people who believed in this idea from the beginning and continued to spread the word over the past 300+ days. THE CAUSE has impacted countless people, patients and families in such a positive fashion. Papa’s desire to care for children for 50 years as a pediatrician coupled with his love of life is as much inspiration as anyone would ever want or need.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart and our entire family…
“Yes the rain poured down the last couple nights. Yes, the trails are closed. Wait, closed!? Yes. And yes, we had a “back-up” plan!”
Driving into the U.S. National Whitewater Center, I couldn’t help but reflect 14 days ago, when this 5K for $5K concept was being brainstormed between my good friend Roni and I. I was at $45,000. With $5K remaining, I wanted to create something that would inspire supporters to spread the word in a way that would make people say “I like that idea…A LOT.” IF they liked the idea, I figured $5 was a reasonable amount for most people to contribute. This idea continued to evolve and in the end resulted in the 5K for $5K Challenge!
As usual, I showed up 90 minutes early grabbing my Run4Papa.com sign and walking a couple laps around the rapids to create some early momentum, stopping periodically to chat with people and pass out business cards. We had the biggest 5K showing by far to raise awareness for PPA research as runners, walkers, children and pets all came out to “Gump it Up” for the last challenge. Again, we had the privilege of ALL new faces attending the 5K as well as 3 generations of family members supporting their loved one, Linda Jeppson, a wonderful lady who was diagnosed with PPA 7 years ago. We had a major crew! With the trails closed due to Mother Nature, we improvised by walking down to the rapids and took our largest group picture of all the 5K’s. I informed everyone of the route: 4 laps around the entire whitewater rapids is exactly a 5K. On top of that, everyone was situated around the water making this area an ideal location to create awareness for PPA.
As we started the FINAL Run/Walk 5K, most of the people participating were kind enough to carry signs with them that read “Run4Papa.com,” “Support the Journey,” and “5K for $5K Challenge.” This 5K was intentionally set-up on Thursday night because the Whitewater Center puts on live music and the location is a popular hotspot for Charlotteans to visit after work in the summertime. Thus, I knew a tremendous amount of awareness would be created for THE CAUSE.
This run/walk was phenomenal. People were going at their own pace and because we had such a huge turnout, Run4Papa received tremendous exposure as we hustled around, lap after lap. I sprinted all over the center snapping as many different pictures as possible. Other runners stopped to chat, several bikers wanted to know more about “Papa,” and even kayakers slowed their momentum on the rapids to learn about our message. Every time we passed by the band and stairs where on-lookers were sitting comfortably drinking their beers and listening to music, people would smile and give us a “thumbs up.” You could see the interest in their faces and I knew we had something special taking place this evening! My fellow “Gumpers” were loving it! Their energy was contagious and anytime we crossed paths along the route, they had massive smiles ear-to-ear and were pumped to be supporting this campaign.
I couldn’t help but being in awe of the children’s facial expressions. They were so happy carrying the signs. They loved running around the water. They were in their element. And for my Papa, a pediatrician of 50+ years, I know he would’ve loved to see this in person because this is what he loved most: parents watching their children do exactly what children should do – enjoying life! After our 5K, people were inquiring about Run4Papa and making contributions as frequently as they purchased tall boys from the beer vendors. Our fishbowl was filling up quickly and inching us closer and closer to our goal of $5K as well as our overall goal of $50K. Even when I went to the cafe to grab a bite to eat, the waiters and waitresses were putting some of their tip money into our bowl!
I must’ve passed out 200 business cards that evening and knew we would reach our goal by the following day. And sure enough, the next afternoon, 5K for $5K Challenge had accomplished its mission of bringing in over $5,000! By doing so, this journey came full circle. We started with a $5 donation and finished with a $5 donation eclipsing the $50K benchmark for Run4Papa.
On paper, the 5K for $5K seemed like a smart idea, but in reality, it was so rewarding to see this come to fruition. The success of this challenge is directly attributed to the countless number of supporters willing to jump on the “Gump bandwagon” and make a $5 contribution. For all those that showed up – “Thank you!” For all those that I know personally who helped spread the word -“Thank you!” And to all those I may never meet in person but believed in this idea – “Thank you!”
5 down, 0 left. Next stop: Great Wall of China Marathon!!!
May 10th @ U.S. National Whitewater Center, Charlotte, NC – 6:30PM
LAST chance to “Gump it up” with Run4Papa. Literally. We have come to our 5th and final 5K for $5K Challenge and what better venue than the U.S. National Whitewater Center for a run/walk amongst supporters of THE CAUSE! This is by far my favorite destination in all of Charlotte because there are so many fun activities from whitewater rafting to rock climbing, biking to trail hiking and much more! Of course, we are going to be hosting the 5K run/walk tonight, but afterwards, there will be a band playing from 7-9PM. This event is completely kid and pet friendly and ANYONE and EVERYONE are welcome and encouraged to participate.
As promised, we have continued to run/walk a 5K every other day until $5K is raised. Through your generosity and willingness to spread the word, the amount of $5 donations thus far have been remarkable. We are SO close to achieving not only the $5K goal set forth 10 short days ago, but also, our overall goal of $50,000! I am confident we will hit our mark with your support for the journey this evening…
The 5K route – We are meeting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in front of the Cafe. It is imperative that everyone show up on time, so we can introduce everyone to each other and make our way over to the Green Trail for the 5K run/walk. We will weave our way through this scenic trail covering 3.1 miles of ground.
In the case that Mother Nature has shut down the trails for any reason, we will go to our “back-up” 5K route of running/walking around the Whitewater Center rafting loop. Either way, it is a win-win for our cause and a great excuse to get together to wrap-up one of the most fulfilling 10-day periods of this campaign.
“Rain or Shine” is the 5K for $5K motto and as promised, we showed up to mark our 4th Run/Walk Challenge in the heart of the Queen City: Uptown, Charlotte. Since PPA patients and their families never take a day off, neither does Run4Papa.
Despite the scattered rainstorms throughout the day, per my standard routine, I showed up 90 minutes early and placed a fishbowl on the corner of S. Tryon/Trade St (one of the most heavily traveled intersections in Uptown). Being in the financial district, there were plenty of people inquiring about THE CAUSE. Even one of Charlotte’s finest couldn’t resist coming up and supporting the journey!
Tonight was extra special because we had 3 generations of family members show up to participate. Linda Jeppson, a local woman diagnosed with PPA 7 years ago came out to run with her husband Bob, their daughter Katie, and 4 children to raise awareness for PPA.
Moreover, some friends and co-workers took an hour out of their busy day to help run up and down South Tryon Street waving our signs to all on-lookers. The entire group was “Gumping it up” and loving every bit. As I sprinted from street to street, I was having a hard time snapping pictures as this group was hauling! The level of enthusiasm was contagious as we continued lapping Uptown with our fishbowl. Rarely do I stop during a run, but curiosity dictated this action because people kept asking “Who is Papa?” “What are you guys doing?” “How can I help?” Do you have any idea how great that feels to hear?!? Phenomenal.
As momentum continues to grow for this campaign, we raised over $162 in the streets of Charlotte and have almost reached our goal of $50,000! BUT, until we do, we will continue running a 5K every other day in hopes of spreading the word about PPA and asking 1,000 people to contribute $5 each. WE KNOW THIS CAN AND WILL BE DONE!
When is the next 5K race? Thursday, May 10th at 6:30PM. Location: 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway. This is an open invite and ALL are welcome. The more the merrier! This is your last chance to participate in the 5K for $5K Challenge. There will be live music and drinks after the run/walk at the White Water Center until 9PM.
May 8th @ S. Tryon/Trade St: Uptown, Charlotte – 6:30PM
Who says you can’t shake things up in a city? Where does it say you can’t create awareness whenever AND wherever you choose? How is today different than yesterday or any other day for that matter in Uptown Charlotte?
To the best of my knowledge, as we launch our 4th 5K for $5K Run/Walk Challenge, I have never known any group to organize a 5K up and down South Tryon in such a confined area of space. That is all about to change at 6:30PM when runners/walkers alike come together in support for PPA awareness.
I am going to do my best to be out on the corner of South Tryon/Trade St. around 5PM promoting THE CAUSE. ANYONE and EVERYONE are welcome to join: RUNNERS, WALKERS, CHILDREN AND PETS! I have been looking forward to this 5K for the last 10 days and can only fathom the positive impact it will create with on-lookers.
The 5K route– We are meeting on the corner of South Tryon/Trade St. which is located in the heart of Uptown, Charlotte in an effort to have fun and create awareness for PPA. We will take a continuous “box-shaped” loop on South Tryon heading up to 7th street, crossing the street and back down to 2nd street. We will run/walk on South Tryon 6 times total (3 up and 3 down), finishing back at South Tryon/Trade St., exactly 3.1 miles later.
One VERY important note about this 5K – We will run/walk solely on the sidewalks being mindful of each and every crosswalk since there will be cars and buses driving all around. This isn’t a race and we don’t want anyone getting hurt.
The day after Cinco de May. Final Round of the Wells Fargo Golf Championship. The threat of T-storms. All these would’ve been legitimate reasons to be relaxing on a Sunday afternoon out in the Queen City. Yet, for a handful of dedicated supporters, they chose to drive to Southpark Mall and support THE CAUSE. And boy, did they do an unbelievable job of promoting Run4Papa!
We met at the amphitheater in Southpark, introduced ourselves to one another, snapped a couple pictures and began running around the perimeter of the mall. The younger runners were so enthused about participating, they asked to carry the Run4Papa.com signs throughout the 5K! They showed each and every car, shopper and customer dining outside why they came together for an hour this afternoon: They raised awareness. They supported the journey. And they did it all with smiles from ear-to-ear.
As we made our way around the mall, we ran by eatery after eatery as well as store after store. What surprised this entire crew the most was Isha running ahead by a good distance pushing her little boy, MaKai, in a stroller. She was flying and finished well ahead of everyone. Now that is inspiring!
To be honest with you, I think this crew could’ve easily ran a 10K! They barely seemed tired by the end. Yes, maybe some of them were a decade (or more) younger than yours truly, but it was a pleasure to see that level of joie de voivre amongst this bunch.
And as promised, we will keep running/walking a 5K every other day until the remaining $5K is raised. And if this face doesn’t make you want to attend the next 5K for $5K, nothing will!
When is the next 5K race?
Tuesday, May 8th at 6:30PM. Location: S. Tryon/Trade St in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. This is an open invite and ALL are welcome. The more the merrier! This 5K should garner a TON of buzz and excitement!
Want to go shopping at the mall? I mean, who doesn’t say yes to that question? What about running AROUND the mall in support of PPA awareness?
Today, we host our 3rd 5K for $5K Run/Walk Challenge in one of Charlotte’s most premiere shopping districts: Southpark. While most people will be hustling from shop to shop, we will be running/walking around the perimeter of the mall passing by a whole array of shoppers, restaurants and boutiques. RUNNERS, WALKERS, CHILDREN AND PETS ARE ALL WELCOME TO JOIN! This is your chance to spend an hour of your afternoon for a tremendous cause. On top of that, when you are finished, you can treat yourself to a healthy smoothie, some tapas, or even a brand new outfit. Just say “You are with Run4Papa.” If they aren’t aware of THE CAUSE, help educate them:)
With two successful 5K’s behind us, we look forward to “Gumping it up” again as we anticipate another solid showing of supporters.
The 5K route – We are meeting in front of the Amphitheater at Southhpark Mall. If you are driving to the venue, feel free to park next to Dick’s Sporting Goods and walk toward the path facing the stage. From this location, we will hit Barclay Downs Drive which parallels the fountains making our way to Morrison Boulevard. Taking a RIGHT on Morrison, we will move up to Sharon road by taking another RIGHT. On Sharon road, we will pass Cowfish (amazing sushi and happy hour hotspot) Crate & Barrel, Cheesecake Factory, Belk, Diamonds Direct (best local jeweler in Charlotte), Zebra (one of the most romantic restaurants in the Queen City), Apple Store (anyone for an ipad?), Bank of America (of course we can pit-stop for a $5 donation) and many more stores. As we hit Fairview Road, we will take another RIGHT. Moving along Fairview Road we will fly by Nordstrom’s, Neiman Marcus and eventually reach Piedmont Row Drive. Making a RIGHT yet again, we breeze past Brio (shout out to my lil sister), Taco Mac (a ridiculous amount of beers on tap), wrapping around the fountain leading into Camegie Boulveard. Camegie Blvd brings us back to our original location at the Southpark amphitheater…exactly 3.1 miles!
Although you may be tempted to stop at one of the many wonderful places along the route, keep that willpower strong until after the 5K. I promise they aren’t going anywhere…
One VERY important note about this 5K – since this location is around the mall, BE MINDFUL OF CARS when approaching the crosswalks. This isn’t a race and we don’t want anyone getting hurt.
300. Hard to imagine, BUT today marked the 300th day of this journey! After our first 5K Run/Walk, the response was clear: people want in. The overwhelming number of emails, contributions and words of encouragement have been unbelievable. Since the official launch 5 short days ago, we have raised over $2K toward our goal of $5K. And as promised, we will keep running/walking a 5K every other day until the remaining $5K is raised.
Like the first 5K, I arrived early and walked a loop around the park holding my Run4Papa.com sign. I stopped to speak to several dog-walkers, was flagged down by a couple tossing a frisbee, and had a brief conversation with some women clearly wanting a break from their boot-camp workout (looked brutal). Most surprisingly, a child no more than 5-years-old was walking side-by-side his mother began to run toward me and started touching my sign, specifically the “Papa” portion. I laughed with undoubtedly a perplexed look on my face. Maybe the kid was just being curious. Maybe he liked the color. Or maybe he was just being a kid. His mom walked to grab her child and said, “we call my dad ‘Papa’.”
As 6:30 was drawing closer, runners/walkers alike came together in Freedom Park to participate in the 5K. After brief introductions, I explained the 5K route to the group. The atmosphere was pleasantly calm and running/walking in such a beautiful location with ideal conditions-clear skies, 70-degrees and a swirling breeze-was beyond stimulating to the mind and senses.
The runners took off as the walkers causally made their way around the body of water surrounding the park. After 1 3/4 laps, we crossed a bridge leading to a path in the woods which wrapped around the park. As any runner will tell you, it’s not challenging to run when nature is surrounding you on all sides. Exiting the woods, we passed a handful of bikers as well as a group of kids playing soccer. My favorite part of the run was, of course, THE STEPS (not often part of a normal 5K). We climbed the steps and looped our way around the park back to the original starting bridge; thus, finishing the 5K run.
Since the walking group was still a decent distance behind us, I sprinted back to their group and we all completed the last leg of the 5K together. I wanted to show my appreciation for their willingness to raise awareness for PPA as well as capture some images of their walk on camera. With another 5K for $5K Challenge successfully completed, what better way to reap the rewards of 3.1 miles covered on foot? We ALL went out for dinner and drinks…after all, it is the weekend:)
When is the next 5K race?
Sunday, May 6th at 2PM. Location: Southpark Mall in front of the Amphitheater. This is an open invite and ALL are welcome. The more the merrier!
What may happen at the next 5K for $5K today? See picture above, just saying. With one 5K under our belt, we are looking forward to a big turnout today at Freedom Park; our 2nd 5K for $5K Run/Walk Challenge. RUNNERS, WALKERS, CHILDREN AND PETS ARE ALL WELCOME TO JOIN! This is not a race but just our way to create awareness for PPA and have fun in one of Charlotte’s most premiere outdoor locations.
Can we top 10 people? You bet we can, “Forrest Gump” style! Who can come? ME. YOU. EVERYONE.
The 5K route – We are meeting in Freedom Park at the bridge overlooking the main body of water. From this location, we will run/walk toward the benches taking 1 3/4 laps around the water. As we approach the 1st bridge, we will veer right, crossing the bridge and onto the path in the woods. Heading left toward East Blvd, we will wrap around the entrance to Freedom Park passing the tennis courts (on the left), basketball court, baseball diamonds, soccer/lacrosse fields, beach volleyball courts and the playground (on the right), moving back toward the bridge.
Of course, we can’t pass up steps! We will climb the steps making one final lap around the water before ending at the original bridge.