ALZ Star discovers passion for running, mental health

Washington state athlete Zoe Yoshinari has a goal of running all six Abbott World Marathon Majors – that’s over 157 miles! She will be halfway to accomplishing her dream when she crosses the finish line at the 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Zoe is running with team ALZ Stars, the Alzheimer’s Association’s charity team, on Sunday, October 9. Having watched her grandmother’s journey with dementia, Zoe is making her miles matter for a cause that is close to her heart.

Zoe joined ALZ Stars in honor of her grandmother, who lived with Multi-infarct dementia. “My grandmother, Barbara Walton, was a wonderful woman. Mother of four, grandmother of five, devoted wife,” shares Zoe. Barbara ran a hotel in the 60s and 70s while balancing family responsibilities. It brought “a multitude of stresses,” according to Zoe. She believes her grandmother’s job stress may have impacted her dementia.

“I never quite understood it at such an early age. Until I was living in New York in my late twenties,” confides Zoe. She experienced the stress and hustle of city life for the first time. The need to care for her own mental health was incredibly important, especially after seeing the toll that stress took on her grandmother. Zoe found solace in long distance running. 

Running was my daily therapy. It made sense that my mental health, just like my physical health, needed to be taken care of as well as maintained.” 

Her personal love of running grew into a desire to raise awareness around mental health. She found that caring for her mental health was just as important as her physical health, and she wanted to share the discovery with others.

“Completing my first marathon in New York in 2007 seemed like a natural evolution,” she shares. But it didn’t just “mark a check” on her bucket list. Instead, it “ignited a passion to complete the Abbott World Marathon Majors. Six Races. Six Stars. One Dream.” 

“Now 11 years on, at the age of nearly 43, I have the courage to continue working toward that dream,” says Zoe. Since completing the London Marathon in 2011, she is “happily married, a mother to two wonderful children and proud to have established a woman owned business.

“Fear had stalled my momentum but now I’ve found the courage to follow my heart, stand up for my dream and I’m ready to conquer another marathon.”

Zoe is excited to use her next marathon to raise funds and awareness for a disease that impacted her family. She says that running on team ALZ Stars gives her next race extra purpose and meaning. 

ALZ Stars athletes sign-on to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association and receive a limited entry to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The 2022 team has 298 athletes, and they already raised over $200,000! Zoe has surpassed her personal fundraising goal – but she isn’t stopping. 

At the beginning of the summer, Zoe and a group of running buddies held a fundraiser in San Diego with phenomenal results. They ran 4 miles every 4 hours in 24 hours, and raised support for an important cause. 

Zoe continues to prepare for 26.2 miles in Chicago this fall. She is getting closer to accomplishing her goal of completing all six Abbott World Marathon Majors, all the while moving us towards a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.

Donate to Zoe’s fundraising page as she prepares for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and learn more about team ALZ Stars here.

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