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He’s running 3,500 miles in hopes strangers will ask why

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- Every journey has its start.

For Jack Fussel, each day is his first step.

He might run 40 miles in a single day, but his strides have a special purpose.

Fussel recalls, "In 2011, I decided to set a goal and to run across America,"

Since he began his quest on foot 4 years ago, 12,000 miles and counting, he's been hoping someone will ask him about a disease most people are afraid to talk about.

"The second person I called to tell that I was going to run across the country asked me, 'what charity are you going to run for'. I'd never really thought about it, but instantly the first word out of my mouth was Alzheimer's."

Jack's story begins with his own father's struggle with Alzheimer's.

A Navy veteran of WWII, a working man from a large family of his own, it only took a year for Alzheimer's to take him.

Each step for Jack reminds him of his father's steps backward.

"The disease hit him quick and hard," says Fussel. "I was holding his hand when he died and I'll never forget it."

The jumble of emotions and thoughts still swirl with every step Jack takes.

The sadness of his father's decline mixes with the guilt that he couldn't help more, and the relief that swept over him as he witnessed his father's suffering end.

This is Jack Fussel's second run across the U.S. by himself.

His route takes him wherever he can get the most response, to raise awareness, to let people he speaks with know they don't have to run alone.

He says, "One thing I tell everyone connected with the disease is that the Alzheimer's Association exists, and they're a non-profit. They can help and they can make life a lot better."

He carries what he might need on a modified scooter.

15 years after the passing of his father the pain of his loss slowly turns to worry about his own future.

6 of his dad's brothers and sisters also died of Alzheimer's Disease.

Part of why he runs includes today's destination.

Fussell ends his short run at a place designed to help families struggling with this incurable disease, hoping to send his message that no one need suffer alone.

Jack began his trek in November, 2014 from Savannah, Georgia.

He hopes to finish in California sometime in September.

If you have questions about Jack's run or about Alzheimer's contact the Oklahoma Alzheimer's Alliance at
http://www.alz.org/oklahoma/