Evan Dershowitz (23Ox, 25C) ran the Publix Atlanta Marathon on Feb. 25. (Courtesy of Evan Dershowitz)

While participating in the 2024 Publix Atlanta Marathon on Feb. 25 is a triumph unto itself, the race held deeper significance for Evan Dershowitz (23Ox, 25C). He ran 26.2 miles in honor of his grandfather’s ten-year fight with Alzheimer’s disease.

The course starts at the Home Depot Backyard, located at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and weaves through the historic Sweet Auburn district, Inman Park, Freedom Parkway, Piedmont Park, Georgia Institute of Technology and finally back to the Home Depot Backyard.

Dershowitz was close to his grandparents because they lived 10 minutes away from his house and he visited them “several times a week.” When Dershowitz was around six, his grandfather, Ronald Rieder, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and Dershowitz watched his grandfather succumb to the illness over the following 10 years.

“It was very challenging to watch and see because I was so close to him,” Dershowitz said. “Honestly he was like my best friend.”

When Ronald Rieder passed away on Oct. 31, 2020, Dershowitz wanted to do “something for him.” He did not know what to do until he discovered his passion for running a year ago.

Dershowitz noted that he could not run well in high school and always came in last place in mile runs. As he began running more in college, Dershowitz became interested in eventually running a marathon. Although Dershowitz ran the Publix Atlanta Half Marathon last year, this year he used the marathon as a fundraising opportunity to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.

“I thought, ‘What better way to commemorate his battle with Alzheimer’s and him as a person than to run a marathon for him and raise money for it?’” Dershowitz said.

Dershowitz said he is amazed by the amount of support he has received for this endeavor, with 850 people donating to his fundraiser. He feels that Alzheimer’s “is not talked about enough” and that “people don’t understand the severity of it.”

With the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day fundraising event, Dershowitz surpassed his goal of $4,000 a couple of days before running the marathon, ending with a total of $4,122.17 raised.

Dershowitz, who admitted that in high school he “could not run a mile,” has been training for the marathon since last September. He ran around 30 to 40 miles per week while also balancing school work and extracurricular activities.

“It’s been a lot to juggle, but it’s taught me to manage time well,” Dershowitz said. “It’s been a long journey, but I’m happy I did it, and I’m happy I followed through with it and push myself to do it.”

Both Dershowitz and his grandmother, Enid Rieder, elaborated on how Ronald Rieder’s battle with Alzheimer’s was incredibly long and hard. Consequently, the effort to end Alzheimer’s has become very important for Dershowitz and Enid Rieder.

“Alzheimer’s will always be a big cause for us,” Enid Reider said. “My husband was a wonderful man … It was a long, long fight.”

Though Dershowitz faced a challenge while running the last leg of the race, he never stopped thinking about why he was participating in the marathon.

“At mile 20, I sat down for two minutes on the side of the road, and I was just defeated,” Dershowitz said. “But then, at that moment, I thought of my grandfather and all the people who donated for this. And I‘m like, ‘I can’t let them down. I have to try and get up.’ So I got up, and then I powered through to the end.”

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Alina Glass (she/her, 26C) is from Baltimore, Md. She is double majoring in psychology and anthropology. Apart from writing for the Wheel, Alina is the public relations chair for Circle K, a writer for the Association for Women in Science newsletter and a volunteer for Sprouting Readers. When she is not writing for the Wheel, Alina loves to run, bake and spend time with friends and family.