SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Liverpool High School alum and Cornell graduate student Marc Alessi has already raised over $30,000 for ataxia research, but next week, he will embark on his wildest journey yet, a 26.2 mile hike through the desert in New Mexico.
Terri Alessi, Marc’s mother, said, “He had text me, and wanted to know if I thought it was a good idea, and I’m like, ‘well sure why not.’ I mean the Director of the National Ataxia Foundation calls him, and I thought it would be an honor for him to represent New York State.”
On Sunday, March 15, Marc and 30 others from 30 different states will take part in the Joint Mission Bataan to Cure Ataxia. The marathon-long hike through the desert commemorates the Bataan Death March of World War II and, as of last year, it also became a way to raise money and awareness for ataxia research.
Marc Alessi said, “The reason I’m doing this is to raise money for ataxia research because my father passed away from it in 2011. My brother was diagnosed with it six years ago now, so I’ll definitely be thinking of them during this, and my family, of course, that’s who I do it for.”
Ataxia is a disease of the cerebellum, a part of the brain that manages coordination primarily balance, speech and ability to swallow. Ataxia can also shorten life expectancy primarily due to heart disease, but tens of thousands of American’s live with ataxia.
“He fought the disease with everything he had,” Marc said. “Obviously, me and my brothers, we carry on that legacy, and that’s part of the reason I am doing this for sure.”
Marc started an annual walk in his father’s honor seven years ago to help find a cure for ataxia, and his work is already making a difference within his family.
“There is a test treatment they’re starting right now, and what’s really cool is my brother has just been screened for it,” Marc said. “So, he might be able to get into the trial, which is really awesome. It feels like something is paying off, finally.”
As of Sunday, March 8, the Joint Mission Bataan to Cure Ataxia was only about $2,000 short of their $200,000 goal. To donate for Marc’s team you can click here or text JMB18 to 71777.
Marc was scheduled to leave for the White Sands Missile Range Base in New Mexico on Friday, but the coronavirus pandemic has caused his trip to get cancelled.
Marc still plans on completing the 26.2 miles on Sunday at Onondaga Lake Park. Find out how he has been preparing in the video below.
For more local news, follow Anthony Scott on Twitter @A_Scott17
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