Faces of ALS: Tackling Those Miles for Mitch

Emily Cerbone Faces of ALS, Home Page

Marathon runners choose to run for a variety of reasons. Some love to run, enjoy the challenge, or want to cross off an item on their bucket list. Others are running for something – or someone – beyond themselves.

Nathan and J’aime have chosen to run on Team Race for ALS for the Les Turner ALS Foundation at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 9 in honor of their friend Mitch, who was diagnosed with PLS, the ‘sister disease’ of ALS, in 2017. Team Race for ALS unites runners who share the goal of raising funds to provide the most comprehensive care and support to people living with ALS and their families in Chicagoland.

J’aime, a speech pathologist, was introduced to Mitch several years ago as a patient at her clinic.

“Mitch is an exceptional human,” she says. “He’s the kind of guy that takes everything you say into consideration and makes the best choices for himself. He earned my respect right away and selfishly, I feel like I’ve gained more from him than he has from me.” 

Although first-time marathon and Team Race for ALS runners, Nathan and J’aime are not new to running. J’aime ran cross country and track during her time in college, while Nate ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon about 10 years ago. Earlier this year, they ran a half marathon, the Indy Mini. 

Seasoned or not, training for a marathon is not easy. There are days when physically or mentally you’re not up for it. On these days, Nathan and J’aime think about their friend Mitch:

“There are days when I don’t want to go out and train, but I think about Mitch, and it motivates me.” 

J’aime and Nathan are both inspired by Mitch’s perseverance. J’aime has even noticed the impact that Mitch has had on their son. 

“My 15-year-old son, who would normally be trying to get on a video game system or hang out with his friends, has enjoyed doing things with Mitch like clothes shopping,” she says. “I’ve been able to see how patient and kind my son is especially when the trip takes a little longer and it takes Mitch extra time to do something like trying on a shirt.”

Nathan and J’aime see more runs in their future not only to continue helping Mitch, but also to help others with ALS and PLS. 

J’aime says, “I would absolutely encourage others to consider running for Team Race for ALS! People need to know more about ALS and PLS, and we need to do our part to create more awareness and funding. Running this race is an excellent way to challenge yourself on a much bigger scale, and know that at the end of the day, all the training and the race itself is nothing compared to what people like Mitch experience.” 

“Mitch is an awesome person,” Nathan adds. “It’s wonderful doing something for somebody. Knowing Mitch, he would run himself, if he could.”

Mitch is grateful for all that J’aime and Nathan have done for not only him, but the ALS and PLS community. 

“When I think about what J’aime and Nate have done and continue to do for me, it pulls on my heart strings. Words cannot explain how grateful I am for them, and I will be forever,” he says. “Life is not over once you have been diagnosed with PLS or ALS. It’s true that the diagnosis will change every facet of your world, but you just learn to live your life differently, appreciate every day, and stop waiting to do things! I have PLS but PLS does not have me…’cause there’s a lot of living left to do!”

Help us help other people living with ALS or PLS like Mitch to continue their fight and continue to live their best life.