About 9 years ago, the smartest and strongest man I know started falling down. It wasn't often, but it happened enough that we started to worry why he lost his balance so much. At over 6 feet tall, when he'd fall, it was always hard. Over the next couple of years, his speech started to slur:bad enough that people sometimes thought he was drunk, even though he never drank alcohol. It took years of doctor visits, online research and eventually a trip to the Mayo Clinic in June 2007 to finally diagnose him with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). This rare disease, affecting only five people per 100,000 is a neurodegenerative brain disease that has no known cause, treatment or cure. It affects nerve cells that control walking, balance, mobility, vision, speech, and swallowing.
In the past few years, we've seen a steady decline in my dad and it's been heart breaking to watch. His beautiful blue eyes can barely stay open, but do continue to sparkle when his grandkids are around. A man who had the attention of NASA and spoke so intellectually can no longer form words that any of us can understand. A man who always cleaned his plate, and often cleaned ours, has had a feeding tube now for over a year. A man who loved to cross-country ski, hike in the mountains and take walks has to be hoisted into a wheelchair because he can't stand up. A man who loved to travel and worked SO hard his whole life so that he could travel the world with my mom, has barely been able to enjoy retirement. A man who wrote endless letters to the editor and long, thought out emails, can no longer even use an iPad to communicate, let alone a computer. A physicist, who used his vision, dedication and intelligence to run his own company for 20 years, is now completely dependent on others.
My dad has run a long, hard race the last nine years and is closing in on the finish line. Thus, I have decided that I'm going to run a long, hard race in his honor. For about as long as he has been fighting this disease, I've been thinking about running Robie. This race has been labeled as the "toughest half-marathon in the Northwest" and is a rite of passage for Boise runners. So, this is the year. On April 21st I'm going to run up that hill. I know that if anything can get me up, it's the strength and inspiration of my dad and his long, hard fight. Not only am I running it for him, but I'm also running it to raise awareness and money for an organization called CurePSP. They are working hard to find a cure for this horrible disease and I'd like to do my part to help out. All donations that are made will go to them. My parents have planned well and are financially able to take care of his medical expenses. I\'m running the race regardless if I raise $1...so I won\'t be using any funds for t-shirts or race entries or anything like that. I just need this extra boost to get me through it!
So, I am asking my family and friends for help by spreading the word, by donating money, by running the race with me, or just by providing your support and prayers. Anything helps and all is appreciated!
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