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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fort Thomas Resident to Run 328 Miles for Alzheimer's

While most people rely on running to stay healthy, some people keep lacing up those running shoes in order to help others while also staying physically fit. To Steve Schwalbach, who got his start running for Highlands High School in the 1980s, running isn't just a way to exercise and push his limits physically. It's a way to give back to his mom, and raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati.

Raising funds for Alzheimer's is a cause close to Schwalbach's heart. “My mother had Alzheimer's for more than fourteen years. She passed away this past March,” said Schwalbach. According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and someone in the United States develops the disease every 67 seconds.

Last year, Schwalbach organized and participated in the inaugural Jackie's Run. He spent seven days running a Kentucky-based course, and successfully raised over $15,000 for Alzheimer's. This year's course will take Schwalbach and fellow runners throughout 328 miles of Ohio. “The route is actually from Cleveland to Cincinnati. It's all done on bike paths, which would include the Loveland Bike Trail. A lot of it's done on the Erie Trail.”

(Left to Right) Joshua Strzala, Steve Schwalbach, and Walt Neubauer will be participating in the 2015 Jackie's Run together. 

Schwalbach won't be traversing 328 miles of Ohio's roads alone. Columbus, Ohio resident Walt Neubauer and Joshua Strzala, of Cleveland, Ohio, will be joining Schwalbach for the run. The two were also instrumental in helping Schwalbach create a route for this year's Jackie's Run. “Last year, Walt ran a little bit of Kentucky with me. And he said, 'If you ever have a desire to run Ohio, we can work together and do Ohio.' Walt is actually the one who came up with the route through Ohio. Last year we ran U.S. 27, and it was a little dangerous between cars and backroads. So Walt decided to make it more simple for runners, and that's when we came up with the bike trail,” said Schwalbach. 

The runners will also be accompanied by different drivers each day along the route.

This year's Jackie's Run officially kicks off on May 22 and lasts until May 30. The route is as follows:

     Day 1: Cleveland to Sagamore Hills - 22.55 miles
     Day 2: Sagamore Hills to Canal Fulton - 42.86 miles
     Day 3: Canal Fulton to Frederickburg - 38.36 miles
     Day 4: Frederickburg to Mt. Vernon - 38.37 miles
     Day 5: Mt Vernon to Dublin - 46.45 miles
     Day 6: Dublin to London - 39.53 miles
     Day 7: London to South Xenia - 52.42 miles
     Day 8: South Xenia to Avoca park (Cincinnati) - 30 miles
     Day 9: Avoca park (Cincinnati) to Fort Thomas, KY - 16.1 miles

Tower Park's iconic water tower will serve as the finish line. The runners are scheduled to arrive at the finish line at approximately 6:00pm on May 30, 2015. I think it goes without saying that anyone running that many miles deserves a celebration once crossing the finish line. The Olde Fort Pub will be the site of the post-run party. Anyone is invited to stop by to cheer on the runners as they finish, and to celebrate at The Pub following the run. Cheering on the runners as they finish Jackie's Run would be a great way to support Schwalbach and his fellow runners. “I mean really, supporting us would be to be at the finish line and even Fort Thomas Pub that night. And to donate, of course,” said Schwalbach.

Running 328 miles over a 10-day period of time is a massive accomplishment, and certainly won't come without some difficulties. Throughout the run, Schwalbach plans to look to his mom to keep him inspired and motivated. “I do think of my mom quite a bit,” said Schwalbach. “I mean, that's the biggest thing. I do love to run and to raise money for charity. The biggest thing is my mom. She's done so much for me, and this is the least I can do in return.”

Check out Jackie's Run website for more information about the run and to make a donation.

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