By Susan Misur
The Danville News
Many people don't go beyond their treadmills when it comes to running.
Recently, more than 50 brothers of Bucknell University's Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity ran from Lewisburg to Washington D.C.
No, it wasn't part of their brother initiation program or any type of fraternity requirement. The brothers ran the 180--mile relay to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association and present a check to representatives of the group at the White House.
The annual event, called the Reagan Run, was started four years ago an is special to Bucknell's chapter of TKE. Theirs is the only group in the national fraternity that participates in the vent, according to chapter president, Michael Harkness.
Each participating brother runs a few miles at a time with a car following him as a safety precaution, and everyone in the chapter helps with fundraising.
This year's three-day relay raised more than $30,000 for the Alzheimer's Association, Mr. Harkness said, surpassing the fraternity's goal of $25,000 and last year's donation of $23,307.
"Running to D.C. and presenting the check to the Association was an unbelievable experience," he said. "Everyone had a feeling of great accomplishment as we finished up our relay." Brothers of the fraternity started the tradition of running to Washington D.C. to honor Ronald Reagan, who died in 2004, was a brother of TKE at Eureka College and had Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's is a progressive brain disease that destroys brain cells while impairing memory, thinking processes, and behavior. Over five million Americans are afflicted with the deadly disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association's Web site, alz. org.
Many relatives of TKE's members are also afflicted with the disease, making this charity fundraiser a personal move for many of the brothers.
"My grandmother suffers from the disease. She no longer recognizes me, my mother , my aunt or my uncle," said TKE brother and Reagan Run co-chair Rob Trangucci.
"She's one of the reasons I was so passionate about organizing the run." While currently there is no cure for Alzheimer's, there are treatments available that can slow the progression of the disease's symptoms.
But for the brothers in TKE, that's not enough.
"I wanted to aid in the search for a cure so that others don't' have to go through what my grandmother and family has endured," added Mr. Trangucci.
Drew Larson, the second co-chair for the run, said Alzheimer's severely affected his grandfather's every day activities in the last six months of his life.
"One of his worst mental deficiencies was that he lost his sense of time. He'd wake up at 2 a.m. thinking it was afternoon, drive to a restaurant for lunch and not understand why it was closed," Mr. Larson said.
"It seems ironic now, but my grandpa donated $50 to last year's Reagan Run. If he had the disease at that point, we didn't know it."
This year, local businesses, families and friends donated to the fraternity's fundraiser — because like in the case of Mr. Larson's grandfather, you never know what the national crusade might become a personal one.