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ALZ Stars Runner Spotlight: Melisa Holman

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is not just about ONE story – it’s thousands of stories. Read Melisa Holman’s ALZ Stars marathon runner spotlight below!

Where do you live? Asheville, North Carolina

Is this your first marathon? This will be my second marathon.

What do you do when you are NOT training for a marathon? I work for The Nature Conservancy as a Donor Communications Specialist. I work to inspire donors to give to The Nature Conservancy and to help them understand how their support is helping to bring about a future where nature and people thrive.

Why are you running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for the Alzheimer’s Association ALZ Stars team? In May 2017, I lost my dad to dementia. He struggled for years to maintain his dignity and demeanor–his very self–through this disease. I struggled to understand how I could support him.

After he died, I felt the intense void of losing him, the insidious sense that I could have done more to help him, and the tangible weight of life’s impermanence. And I felt fear at what my future might hold.

I became determined to go the extra mile to prevent a similar fate. I have accepted the reality that there is no guarantee that my brain will stay healthy through old age, but I am also buoyed by research that suggests a healthy lifestyle can help. According to the Harvard Medical School, “The most convincing evidence is that physical exercise helps prevent the development of Alzheimer’s.”

It was then that I decided to run the Chicago marathon to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. I needed a monumental challenge to honor Dad’s life–and to demonstrate my desire to help myself and others avoid dementia.

So, this October I will run 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago, near where my dad (Douglas Holman) grew up. I will run to remember my incredibly supportive, kind father who went the distance for those he loved and to recognize his strength living through this terrible disease. I will run to honor my brother, Andy, who was Dad’s caretaker for more than five years and went above and beyond to keep him happy and safe. I will run to honor my personal commitment to live a healthy, full life with the time I have left.

What’s on your playlist? Is there a “go-to” song that gets you moving? I am continually adding to my running playlist—it’s already 24 hours long! But I’m also starting a 4-hour Chicago playlist with super-catchy, up-tempo songs that also have a motivating message. I think currently the song that gets me going best is “Go” by The Chemical Brothers. A close second (and obviously quite relevant) is “Marathon Runner” by Yellow Ostrich.



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