Cumberland woman runs Boston Marathon for people with Alzheimer’s disease
Cumberland resident Jackie Mundry will run the Boston Marathon this month in honor of her late grandmother, a single mother who lovingly raised three children while working for NASA and then in a law office.
Mary Ann Look died last June after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and Mundry ran the marathon to raise awareness of the disease and money to research it.
“She was amazing. We were very close,” Mundry said. “My dad worked nights and my mom worked days, so I had that three-hour period in between when they worked that I always spent with her. She was the best person in the world.”
Look had a successful career working for NASA in Florida during the “Space Race” of the 1960s and eventually worked for a law firm in Boston before his diagnosis. She raised Mundry’s mother and two other children and also became a big part of Mundry’s father’s family, who welcomed her with open arms and remained very close to her throughout her life.
Mundry’s parents took her to see the Boston Marathon when she was growing up in Massachusetts, and she always knew that one day she would compete in the iconic race. In 2020 she ran the marathon virtually and this year joined Team End Alz, which raises funds that will go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association for research and to provide care and support for people living with the disease. .
“(Team End Alz) sent us a training folder when we were accepted into the team with a purple long sleeve training shirt and on the back it says ‘Running for the First Survivor,'” said Mundry. “It hit me like a ton of bricks because there has never been a survivor of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. It’s a horrible disease and it’s really hard to see loved ones deteriorate before his eyes.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2020 there were 29,000 people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease in Maine. In 2019, 544 people in Maine alone died from Alzheimer’s disease.
Mundry works as a television reporter for NewsCenter Maine and has covered the state’s elder care crisis. In the past seven months alone, Maine has lost five nursing homes and one assisted living community, creating a lack of available care for all seniors, including those with memory loss. The net result is a loss of 278 beds, according to the Maine Health Care Association.
“Neing to move someone with memory loss can be scary and confusing. I have spoken to many families who are terrified. My grandmother saved and was able to afford treatment, but not everyone is so lucky,” Mundry said. “Obviously I’m doing this in his honor, but it’s also really important to make these resources available to families who aren’t so lucky and who might face more difficult situations. It’s really exciting to see the money being used for this.
As of April 4, Mundry had raised about $12,400 of his $15,000 goal, including matching gifts.
Mundry is fundraising until marathon day on April 18. His fundraiser can be found at givengain.com/activist/505268/projects/43945/.
The Alzheimer’s Association’s toll-free 24/7 helpline is at 800-272-3900 and is available to anyone with dementia, family members, or caregivers looking for information or Support.
“We are so grateful to people like Jackie, who honor people with dementia by raising critical funds for our mission,” said Drew Wyman, executive director of the Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “The money raised allows us to serve more families through care consultations, support groups, education classes, our 24/7 helpline and more. Plus, exercise is good for brain health, so go Jackie!