APPOMATTOX, Va. – Appomattox resident Emily Castillo pushed her three-year-old son in his stroller as she ran around their small town for a big cause.
On the longest day of the year -- with roughly 16 hours of sunlight -- Castillo ran 16 miles Tesday, while raising $1,600 for the Alzheimer’s Association.
“You always find somebody, who knows somebody, who’s affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia,” said Castillo.
Castillo started participating in the nationwide fundraiser four years ago in honor of her Grandma Rita, who is in her 80s and was diagnosed in 2016.
“She has a lot of her long-term memory. Her short-term memory is not the best. We’ll be playing a card game, and every round she will ask, ‘What are we playing?’ and we’ll say, ‘We’re playing pedro,’ and she’ll say, ‘Oh, I won!’” said Castillo.
Castillo is a teacher and took her lessons from the classroom to the sidewalks, raising awareness with flyers and candy, because Grandma Rita has a sweet tooth.
But this was not only about Castillo’s grandmother.
“I try to devote it to anybody I can. The first time I ran, I had one name on my arm. And then now, my legs are filling up with other people and other families who are facing Alzheimer’s,” said Castillo.
One of those families is the family of Linda Tahir, Castillo’s coworker, whose mother, Vivian, is fighting the disease. Vivian turns 98 next month.
“I would love to see a cure in my lifetime, maybe even her lifetime, for Alzheimer’s,” said Tahir.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three senior citizens are diagnosed and more than six million Americans are currently fighting the disease.
“You’re not alone going through this. Even though it feels lonely, there’s somebody who can help you,” said Castillo.