On a journey for Alzheimer’s awareness
By Stephanie Johns
They say a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. Jack Fussell took that first step in his cross-country journey on Jan. 12.
Fussell of Talking Rock, Ga. started out in Skidaway Island State Park in Savannah.
After jogging and walking more than 3,000 miles he will end his journey in Monterey, Calif. within the next eight or nine months, he hopes.
Fussell noted that he originally planned to arrive in Monterey within five or six months but that expectation changed soon after he began.
“So many people stop and talk to me and I do plan on talking to every one of them,” he said.
He added that he also goes into assisted living facilities.
“I thought I was going in there to give encouragement,” he said. “I found I was the one getting encouragement; I was encouraged even more.”
Along the way he plans to venture into Madison with plans to go on to Hard Labor Creek State Park after that.
His goal: to raise $250,000 for Alzheimer’s disease. He has raised almost $8,000 already.
Fussell lost his father to the disease in 2000.
“Alzheimer’s came on really fast,” he said. “Seeing the progression, it was fast. It was really fast.”
Five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death among adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“I’m 62 but that’s so hard for me to grasp there’s still a disease like this,” he said. “I honestly want to help.”
According to his website, www.acrosstheland2013.com, Fussell has “trained” for this journey for the past 10 years in the North Georgia mountains.
“I really didn’t know it: I was training really hard going up and down mountains,” he said. “The goal to do this came up 529 days before Jan. 12.”
When asked why he chose Jan. 12 as his start date, Fussell said he had no idea.
“So much of this, I have no idea why it came to me,” he said.
He does know why he chose his starting and ending locations, though.
He has volunteered for 12 years in Georgia state parks, so when someone suggested he choose a state park as a starting destination, he chose Skidaway.
As to his ending destination, Fussell said it, too, is a state historic site and that Monterey has significance for his family.
“When my mom re-married they visited the grave of his wife and his son in Monterey, California,” he said.
Those interested in contributing may make donations through Fussell’s website and click on the donation button. This will take you to the Alzheimer’s Association website.
Printed in the February 14, 2013 edition