MILTON, Ga. – It took William Glass 56 days and three pairs of shoes to walk from Chicago to Atlanta to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s – a disease with which he’s all too familiar.
Glass said he wanted to be closer to his mom, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and lives in Cumming, so the walk was for her and for all the people affected by the disease.
“I realized I wasn’t involved enough with her disease and one day it finally hit me that I needed to do something,” Glass said. “Our family has already been affected so much by this and I wanted to somehow save others the heartache and daily struggle that we’ve gone through.”
Overall, Glass raised $10,585 through donations from people he knew and from strangers along the walk.
That journey, however, was no easy feat.
“It took about four months of preparation, but nothing could prepare me for the physical aspect of it – the rain, the blisters, the sore feet, the cuts and the dogs – you’re just not prepared,” he said.
Glass added that he had major cities mapped out on his route and was in touch with various Alzheimer’s Association chapters along the way.
He slept in local parks, firehouses, and sometimes, people would listen to his story and simply open their home to him.
Glass said it was an incredibly rewarding experience.
“I had so much support behind me the whole way. I even had a homeless man, who I knew didn’t have a dollar to his name, give me $5 because he overheard me telling someone else about my walk,” Glass said. “It really touched me, and I think I touched others’ lives as well, and brought some much needed attention to this disease.”
When he arrived at his mother’s house at the end of his travels, Glass gave her a flower that he brought all the way from Chicago.
“Because she has Alzheimer’s, she just thought I was stopping by,” he said. “But it was very emotional and definitely tugged at the heart strings.”
A benefit dinner was held at Zola Italian Bistro, 2955 Bethany Bend Road in Milton, on Monday, Dec. 9, which included a three course Italian dinner and featured live music.
A portion of the proceeds will go to the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia chapter.
The owner, Pam Schiveree, said the restaurant was grateful to have Glass work there.
“He’s very special, and he’s doing a great thing,” she said.
Andrea Mickelson, director of development for the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association, and Jack Fussell, who pushed a stroller from Savannah, Ga., to Monterey, Calif., to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s were also in attendance.
And Glass emphasized that someday, a cure for Alzheimer’s will be found.
“Right now, it’s the most expensive disease out there because it lasts so long,” he said. “I’ve spoken to many different researchers across the country, and they’ve said there will be a cure one day.”
For more information or to donate, visit www.alz.org.