Three months ago, William Glass left his Chicago home and started walking. Six states, 750 miles, and four pairs of bright purple sneakers later, he reached his Atlanta destination.
Glass, 37, arrived in Atlanta last Tuesday, the end of a long journey to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. His mother, Eileen, was diagnosed with the disease in 2010. The final leg brought Glass to the assisted-living home where she resides, with a flower he carried with him from Chicago and a fresh bouquet of wildflowers picked along the way, reported Chicago’s Daily Herald.
“I’m still dealing with a lot of emotions,” Glass told the Herald when he reached his destination after starting out Aug. 5. “It’s been up and down. Nothing would have prepared me for what I went through, the mental part of that.”
Glass titled his journey “Flowers for Mom … Chicago to Atlanta Walk to end Alzheimer’s,” and by its end he had raised about $5,000 toward his $10,000 goal for Alzheimer’s research. As of Thursday, the fundraising page on the Alzheimer’s Association website showed $9,250 in donations.
As a child, Glass would pick wildflowers for his mom, he wrote on the site. “Even if they were weeds she would always put them in a vase and set them on the dining room table or in the living room,” he wrote.
Glass walked to support his mother and to show other families suffering from Alzheimer’s that they were not alone. “They were just so happy to know there was somebody out there helping them because they thought they had just been silenced, that nobody cared,” Glass told the Herald.
New Balance donated bright purple sneakers to his cause, after miles of walking wore down each one. Glass purchased his first pair, and the shoe company furnished the last three. Purple is the color of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Carrying with him only a 25-pound pack, Glass spent many nights in campgrounds and public parks during his journey. Other times, the paper reported, he slept in extra bunks in firehouses or in donated hotel rooms.
He updated followers on a Facebook page and Twitter feed along the way. On Aug. 12, one week after starting his journey, Glass tweeted a photo of an unnamed, lonely dirt road with the caption “Are you as tired of seeing pics of these roads as i am?”
The sacrifice was worth his journey’s purpose.
“Mom and my family did not deserve this horrible disease, Glass wrote. “I’m walking so that in the future you and your family will not have to go through the years of daily pain and heartache this disease produces for families.”
Read the full story at the Daily Herald.