Locals to hold 5K, participate in NYC Marathon to raise funds for ALS research

From left, Jennifer Racine and Jennie Dault are pictured in a Green Bay half marathon. Racine, who will race to raise funds for Project ALS in the New York City Marathon in November is holding a 5K Saturday in Negaunee to help raise funds for Project ALS with the help of Dault. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Racine)

MARQUETTE — A local runner will be fulfilling a longtime dream by participating in the world’s largest marathon to raise funds for a Project ALS, a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

Jennifer Racine of Ishpeming will run in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 3 to raise funds for research on ALS, a neurodegenerative disease with no cure that gradually impairs a person’s ability to initiate and control movement, impacting speech, eating, movement and breathing.

For those who want to get involved locally and help Racine raise funds for Project ALS, a 5K fundraiser will be held 9 a.m. Saturday starting at Jackson Park in Negaunee.

The pet-friendly 5K will take attendees along the scenic Heritage Trail, with prizes awarded for the first place finishers and awards for the top three. The registration fee is $25, which includes a T-shirt and refreshments.

“We hope to raise $3,000 at our 5K event,” Racine said in an email. “All money raised goes to Project ALS, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to research to find a cure for this disease.”

Racine, who has been running for several years, got involved with the sport after her own father was diagnosed with Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a fatal skin cancer which, like ALS, has no cure.

“I used it as my release, my way to be alone, to cope and to just think,” she said.

It’s been a long journey to running in the NYC Marathon, which courses through New York City’s five boroughs and attracts tens of thousands of applicants each year, she said.

“Running NYC Marathon has been a dream of mine since I started running,” she wrote on her fundraising page for the marathon. “I could never get a qualifying time, and hadn’t been picked for the lottery, the next option was to apply to run for a charity.”

With hundreds of charities and causes to choose from, Racine felt she “needed to find one that would mean something” to her and found this in Project ALS, which “funds the most promising scientific research that will lead to the first effective treatments and a cure for ALS,” she said.

“As a nurse, I see first hand how diseases with no real cures or treatments destroy lives and families forever. I applied to Project ALS,” she said. “I didn’t know if they would accept me. They only chose 25 runners. They did though, and now I am on a mission to not only meet this fundraising goal, but to raise awareness of the need for more research to find a cure.”

Further research on finding a cure for ALS is needed, she said, as it has no cure and is the third most common neurodegenerative disease following Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

“It’s progressive and it’s fatal. ALS kills motor neurons causing muscles to weaken. You lose your ability to walk, use your hands, to swallow, to eat, and to breathe, and then your voice,” Racine said in an email. “Your mind remains intact, so when your body is failing, you are very aware of what is going on.”

Racine hopes to raise both funds and awareness, she said, noting each of the 25 Project ALS marathon runners are expected to raise $3,000 for the organization. Last year, the 25 people who ran for Project ALS in the NYC Marathon raised over $140,000, raising almost twice what was expected.

She’s already been able to work toward that goal through a fundraising page online and hopes to raise even more funds to help find a cure for ALS at Saturday’s 5K, she said.

For those who want to help but aren’t able participate in the 5K, Racine said they can show support by donating directly to her fundraising page, or by just coming “down to the park and cheer on the runners and walkers.”

To learn more about the 5K to be held Saturday and how to participate, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/2155588111420094/?ti=ia. Registration can be completed at https://bit.ly/2xdD7QN. For those who wish to contribute directly or learn more about Racine’s participation in the NYC Marathon, visit https://fundraise.projectals.org/fundraiser/1990482.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.