This year, I will run my first marathon, cheered on by friends and family and running with my brother, Chris, who has done this before. Back in the spring, Chris and I joined "Runners for Alzheimer's Research," the Alzheimer Drug Discovery Foundation's (ADDF) first TCS New York City Marathon team.
The team's eight members care passionately about finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. Chris and I know firsthand the effects of this disease on patients and their loved ones. Our father, New York Giants running back Ron Johnson, was diagnosed in 2008.
We are running for him and because of him. Our father understood that professional athletes have an opportunity to lead in other ways. Kids look up to them, and people are inspired by what they accomplish. Athletes can use that influence to support causes that matter to them. Our father, with two of his teammates, created a nonprofit, Minority Athletes Networking, to benefit kids in inner city communities. And both our parents instilled in us a deep sense of the importance of giving back. Volunteering is an important part of my life, and I hold those experiences dear.
Chris became involved with the ADDF over four years ago and is now on the Board of Overseers. He’s already run a few marathons to support this good cause. I was inspired by him to support the ADDF and become a part of the marathon team. We don't want others to go through what our family is going through. Alzheimer's is a fact of life for a lot of people, but it shouldn't be. Running the New York City Marathon will allow us to contribute to finding effective treatments and ending this disease.
Six months ago, when I signed up for the team, I wasn't very experienced. I’d played tennis, but that's all short sprints. While training, I’ve gotten fitter and have enjoyed running in Central Park and along the Hudson. I know I'm not going to finish the marathon in two hours, but I’m having fun with it. Finishing is an accomplishment, and I know people are behind me.
To support Allison and the other members of the ADDF’s 2015 TCS New York City Marathon team, visit our Crowdrise page. All donations made to our team will directly support the discovery and development of treatments to end Alzheimer's.