Philanthropy run raises money to end Alzheimer’s

Senior Austin Perkins, 20 of Louisville, raises his hands in the air as he gets ambushed with purple powder during The Purple Run, a 5K walk and run to raise awareness of Alzheimer and to support the Alzheimer’s Association Saturday, October 1st, 2016 at Kereiakes Park.

Megan Cole

An air horn sounded in Kereiakes Park on Saturday morning, signaling the start of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity’s fifth annual Purple Run 5K. Dozens of people of all ages, uniformed in the event’s white t-shirts, leaped forward to begin the race.

Each year, the event raises money and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association, the philanthropy of WKU’s chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, or Fiji.

Senior Fiji member Taylor Leigh said the money raised goes toward different programs through the Alzheimer’s Association, including informational resources and funding for ongoing research to end the disease.


Saturday’s race raised roughly $2,500 to donate to the Alzheimer’s association, according to Leigh.

Crossing the finish line with purple rivers tracing his face from the powder used in the run, Jeremy Latham, freshman and new member of Fiji, placed first for the men’s division of the race. Jeremy said he has learned a lot from being a part of the fraternity during his short time on the Hill.

“I’ve learned a lot about listening to people and noticing details about who they are as a person,” Latham said. “I’ve also learned about how important it is to not take your time for granted, to have character, and to be kind.”

Latham added this specific philanthropy was a factor in his choice in joining Fiji, saying his grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and is now in a nursing home.

“I want to help out with families that I know are facing the same thing as mine in any way that I can, and this organization helps me to do so,” Latham said.

“Since this is a disease that affects everyone, we don’t want this event to be composed of only college students, so a large goal has been to involve the community,” senior Jacob Hodges said, explaining the increase in community involvement and marketing for the event.

While this event has become a fall tradition for the WKU student body and Bowling Green community, Fiji hosts other events throughout the year as well to raise awareness and funding to end Alzheimer’s disease. Since 2010, the organization has completed four bi-annual cross country bike rides from coast to coast in effort to raise awareness and funds to battle the disease.

Senior Joey Badinger completed the most recent bike ride this summer. Badinger said this trip alone raised roughly $55,000. Nearly $140,000 had been raised for Alzheimer’s research from the previous trips.

“We’re learning as we go,” Badinger said. “This ride was incredibly eye-opening to see what it means to go all out for a cause that you truly care about, a cause that affects more people than we realize.”

Badinger said the philanthropy hits home for a lot of people, himself and his family included after losing his grandfather to Alzheimer’s disease.

“When thinking of things that I wouldn’t want to forget, the bike ride is one of those things,” Badinger said. “I learned so much about perseverance and finding the joy in the every day, regardless of your circumstances.”

The final runners who crossed the finish line Saturday were splattered head-to-toe with various shades and streaks of purple. Runners gathered for the post-race celebratory powder throw, filling the air with purple dust, cheer and laughter.

Reporter Megan Cole can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].