Lee Thornquist is on a mission to honor his grandmother’s legacy and help support the more than five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. Lee – a self-proclaimed ultra runner, adventurer and fundraiser – will be running around the perimeter of Lake Michigan from March 14 through April 18, 2021. The run will be a total of 1,100+ miles in 36 days, and Lee will run an average of 31 miles a day with no days off. His goal is to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter in honor of his grandmother who passed away in September of 2020.
Lee’s grandmother, Harriet, was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment in 2007 when Lee was only thirteen years old. Lee noticed small changes such as full bags of food being thrown away and cleaning things that weren’t dirty. As time passed, Harriet began to forget names, and the loving personality of his grandmother began to change. Harriet passed away in September of 2020 after living with Alzheimer’s for more than 13 years. Lee emphasizes that although his grandmother was living with this devastating disease, she was still able to teach him and his family about unconditional love, courage, and the fragility of life.
With more than 10 ultramarathons under his belt, Lee is definitely no stranger to the runner lifestyle. Despite having an abundance of experience with ultrarunning, Lee claims his journey around Lake Michigan is “by far his most ambitious project yet.” His run around Lake Michigan will begin on the lakefront path in Chicago and will continue north into Wisconsin and into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. His course will then take him across the Mackinac Bridge and south through Michigan, Indiana, and finally back to the original starting point in Chicago.
During the run, Lee will be living in an RV with one other person who will act as the RV driver and personal support system along the way. Lee says the RV will “act as a home, kitchen, shower and much more” throughout his journey.
Lee’s fundraising goal for his run around Lake Michigan is $25,000, and every donation will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association for the advancement of Alzheimer’s care, support and research.