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Marathon for Memories moves into home stretch

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Going into the final week of January, Marathons for Memories is now in its home stretch.

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George Papadakos of Tillonburg began the fundraiser Jan. 1, running marathons to raise money for the Alzheimer Society of Oxford. By Jan. 9, he had completed nine marathons in nine days, and planned 31 in 31. An injury, however, caused him to ‘pivot.’

That’s when the community stepped in to help. His family, friends and the community, started to volunteer their kilometres running, walking and biking that tallied together would collectively allow Marathons for Memories to continue.

Papadakos wants to be clear and transparent – he is not doing this fundraiser solo. Donated kilometres have continued to add up, he said, recalling single days when it was more than 175 km – much more than a 42.2 km marathon.

“People have just gone out and said, ‘I want to donate my kilometres to you.’ So it’s been super fantastic to see the community grow in leaps and bounds.”

Within a few days of his ninth marathon, Papadakos had more than 20 people contributing kilometres on a single day, and maybe 30-35 people in total.

“Obviously my original intention was to go it alone and hope that my community supported my endeavours, but now I see that the community has really stepped up and they’re actually doing the hard yards and the hard work that needs to be done for the charity (Alzheimer Society) and to do it justice.”

At the same time having more people actively involved increases awareness, he added.

“It puts it at the forefront of everybody’s minds, it’s all over the place. So it’s been fantastic that way. The kids are getting into it, and guys like Max (Adam) and others, and that’s pretty special to see them be involved with something that is much bigger than all of us.

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“So it’s been good… and an eye opener. I think at the beginning I had visions of grandeur, and to be totally honest I really didn’t think my body was going to fail as quick as my mind. I kind of thought that I would go into mental spots along the way that would be way bigger than the tiny little niggles that you get from running. But it was almost the exact opposite. I was in pain from about Day 2 or 3, then I ran five marathons on a bad Achilles. So I had to stop the marathons at nine consecutive and a lot of my community just kind of stepped up and said ‘we’re going to do this for you.’ That was pretty special. That changed a negative into a positive, and it really put what I’m doing, and what we have created, into light.”

As of Jan. 13 the fundraiser had unofficially surpassed $20,000, more than half of his $31,000 goal. On Monday, Jan. 25, the Alzheimer Society website ( https://alzheimer.ca/oxford/en/home ) showed it was at $22,214, and more money is still coming in.

“We’re really rocking and I have no doubt that we’re going to get to the $31,000 goal,” said Papadakos, who has been seeking treatments, and has been able to contribute to Marathons for Memories over the last couple of weeks on a treadmill and bike.

cabbott@postmedia.com

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