Running For Papa
by Jason F. Boschan on July 27, 2011
As I was walking back to my brother’s apartment in NYC, just after completing the 2010 NYC marathon, he said, “I want to tell you something but I am afraid you will want to do it.”
Naturally, my curiosity was piqued and when I asked him what was on his mind he said:
“I heard there is a half on the Great Wall of China, maybe even a full marathon. ”
With that one sentence, started a vision and a journey that has completely shifted my life toward something far more important than just running. No longer was it just about conquering a race and getting to the finish line. This has become a journey to educate people who know nothing about aphasia and Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) by taking the fight to their social media forums. Literally.
The most common question I hear when speaking to people about aphasia or PPA is:
“I have never heard of that before, what is it?
For this reason, I decided to be proactive and do something extraordinary to help all people and families battling this disease. Not only was I going to run the Great Wall of China Marathon, but I was going to partner with the #1 medical research facility in the world to raise global awareness and create donations for those struggling with aphasia and PPA. The Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC) at Northwestern University is the #1 research facility in the United States for PPA. Dr. Marsel Mesulam, the physician who first identified PPA, runs the department: http://www.brain.northwestern.edu/
My grandfather, Dr. Louis “Papa” Heyman, a pediatrician for 50+ years was diagnosed with PPA a couple years ago. I had never heard of this disease before and was curious to research more about the symptoms of aphasia as well as PPA. For my grandfather and our family, it has been a tough couple of years as we have seen the affects of PPA in respect to his diminishing motor and sensory skills.
“Papa” has always selflessly and willingly offered his time and care for those that needed it most. He made time when a family needed him, whether it was coming in early or staying late in the office, working on weekends or making personal house calls in the evening. He taught medical rotations for 37 years in the hospital to his students. “Papa’s” passion for life was helping children.
Once when I was having a sleepover at his house, I asked him “When will you stop going to work and helping people? His response:
“They will have to carry me out of the hospital on a stretcher before I quit helping children.”
Your support and help for my journey would be greatly appreciated!!!
Word of mouth, word of mouth, word of mouth is what will take this cause from being relatively unknown in the mainstream to as well-known as Alzheimer’s is today. Of course, like many important causes, research and awareness are the key components to finding a cure. In order for that to be a realistic possibility, donations are what will really benefit all those currently diagnosed with aphasia and PPA.
While these contributions may not save my grandfather, they will certainly help move the cause forward and save other people and families in the future. My “Papa” has given half a century to helping take care of children and their parents, and I know he would love nothing more than to help find a cure for this disease!