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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Ethan Widrig completes 100 days of 5Ks for Alzheimer’s awareness

Widrig completes the final lap of his 100 days of 5Ks. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22

Ethan Widrig ’20 ran a 5K on Dec. 3, just like he’s done for the past 100 days.

This particular run on the Kevin Quinn ’62 track took slightly longer than usual, as he slowed to a walk on his final lap to allow approximately 125 supporters to join him on the last leg of his journey. 

Widrig began his “100 days of 5Ks” campaign to raise awareness for Alzhemier’s disease on Aug. 26 and ended on Dec. 3. He decided to take this challenge in honor of his grandmother, fondly known as Grandma June, who passed away when he was in high school.

For Widrig, support from classmates, family and others who have been affected by Alzheimer’s disease is what enabled him to run each day.

“Part of the reason I was doing this was to bring everyone together,” Widrig said. “I’ve seen throughout the time that I’ve been doing this a lot of people reaching out to me who have been affected by Alzheimer’s. They support me and I support them.”

Widrig celebrates his final 5K. PHOTO: LUKE MALANGA ’20/THE HAWK

Many supporters who came to Sweeney Field for Widrig’s last 5K were present for other runs along the way, some starting as late as midnight. Some came from their nearby dorms or the library, but Widrig’s mother, Jackie, drove from their hometown in Bedford, New Hampshire, which is roughly 340 miles away, slightly farther than Ethan Widrig’s total mileage: 310.

Jackie Widrig said she was concerned about the prospect of running over three miles every day when Ethan Widrig first presented the idea but that it is something she would expect from him.

“I knew he could do it, and I knew he was dedicated,” Jackie Widrig said. “It means a lot to me. My mother-in-law was such an influence in his life, and it’s really nice that he can honor her with this.”

Many members of Widrig’s honors fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi (PSP), have joined him on his runs throughout the past 100 days. His campaign caught the attention of the fraternity’s national office.

“We’ve been following Ethan since the beginning of this journey,” said Dacey Horohoe, who came from Lancaster, Pennsylvania as part of the national staff at PSP. “We all agreed at national staff that we couldn’t miss [his final run]. He’s a great member who embodies all of our values.”

Dylan Judge ’20, a member of PSP, estimates he ran with Widrig 10 times throughout the campaign, and Dec. 3 was no different. Judge ran alongside Widrig and roughly 18 others for 3.1 miles as spectators cheered and chanted each time the group completed another lap. 

Judge is working through a shoulder injury, but he said that because Widrig endured minor injuries over his 100 days, he had “no excuse” to not join him.

“I’ve never seen a community come around something like this,” Judge said. “Every single person here has had individual moments with him and seeing everyone come together for this last time was great.”

Members of other organizations on campus like Sigma Phi Epsilon cheered Widrig on throughout his campaign. For his 100th run, brothers of the fraternity brought hot chocolate for supporters. They ran out early because the crowd exceeded their expectations, according to philanthropy chair, Justin Campbell ’21. 

He said the fraternity wanted to be involved, because some brothers have family members affected by Alzheimer’s disease, including Campbell whose grandmother was diagnosed just three months ago.

“When Ethan started this program, it struck a chord with me,” Campbell said. “It’s a great thing. It’s really good spirited.”

Widrig wears a purple ribbon for Alzheimer’s awareness on his runs. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Widrig’s Dec. 3 run marked the close of his fundraiser. With the backing of 84 people, he raised $12,369 for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. One of these donors contributed $6,866 to match Widrig’s existing donations on Nov. 30.  

Widrig said he knows the identity of the donor, but they wished to remain anonymous to the public.

“Someone reached out to me and said they love the cause and the reason I was doing this, so they wanted to match the donations,” Widrig said. “The whole point was to encourage people to donate. They thought it was a powerful mission and that if they can match everyone’s donations, that can spark something.”

During the final lap, Widrig led his pack of supporters to the end, marked by a banner that read, “Congrats Ethan,” which each attendee signed afterward.

Widrig and his supports pose after his run. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Supporters posed for a group photo in front of that same sign, first smiling and embracing one another, then calling for Widrig’s signature pose: a thumbs up.

For Widrig, being done feels both “weird” and “exciting.” He said he was not an avid runner before completing 100 days of 5Ks, so it will probably be a little while before he laces up his sneakers again.


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