During the 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer's event in Rolla this year, one name was on the tip of every officiant's tongue: Marty Seaton. Seaton, a native to the small town of Highlandville south of Springfield, is set to run a 102 mile charity race for the Alzheimer's Organization today and tomorrow.
During the 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer’s event in Rolla this year, one name was on the tip of every officiant’s tongue: Marty Seaton. Seaton, a native to the small town of Highlandville south of Springfield, is set to run a 102 mile charity race for the Alzheimer’s Organization on November 4th through the 5th. Now a native of Kansas City with his wife and three sons, Seaton is set to come back to the roots of his Ozark upbringing by racing through the Mark Twain National Forest, with his trail beginning in Steelville, Missouri.
Seaton has raised just shy of 36 thousand dollars that will do directly to Alzheimer’s research for this race. “I decided to do it in early July, and I think I calculated this morning that I’ve put in around 650 miles getting ready for it,” he said. “I’ve had the idea for a couple of years, and I finally decided to do it.”
Seaton’s father, Mark Seaton, was diagnosed at the age of 57 with early-onset Alzheimer’s. “My dad primarily worked in a grocery store warehouse his whole life. He had children young, he and my mom married when they were 19. So when he retired after 30 years he was still fairly young at 57,” Marty Seaton said. “Right after he retired, about six months, he had been having some issues, personality changes and little issues with his memory, and he ended up getting tested and was diagnosed...in December of 2013.”
According to Alz.org statistics on average when a person is diagnosed with the disease they have between four and eight years before it becomes fatal, however it is possible for some to live with disease for close to twenty years. Seaton said that his father’s progression has been thankfully slow. “If you met him today you probably wouldn’t notice anything. Part of the reason why I decided to jump into this now, I decided that I didn’t want to wait,” Seaton said. “It’s a disease that has no cure, and it’s eventually going to kill you if you have it. I didn’t want to wait until he was really sick and didn’t remember who I was anymore to try and do something. So he knows that I am trying.”
The race itself spans a two-day, 32 hour period. Starting in Steelville, the racers are bussed 102 miles away, and then must make their way back to Bass River Resort. “I hope to get done in 30 (hours), but really I just want to finish.” Seaton said. “There’s a million things that could go wrong. You could get hurt, you could get sick! You just have to take it one bit at a time. They call it a run, but you just have to finish. I’ll walk a lot of it You have to pace yourself or you’ll burn out. By the end of it i’ll be stumbling.”
Seaton has quite a tale to tell when it comes to his successful campaign of raising funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s, with it all circling back to him making his first social media account. Originally in order to garner support for his cause Seaton sent personal letters for his friends and family, and even some business contacts, but eventually Facebook seemed to be the next step. “I’ve never been on social media in my entire life. I’ve always been down on it. I’m a people person, I like to meet people in person, I don’t like to talk over the phone, and I always thought social media could isolate you by taking that away,” Seaton said. “So I started back early in the summer and made a Facebook account, I didn’t post anything and I just started gathering followers. Then I decided to do that video.”
The ‘video’ he mentions here, now has well over eight thousand views. “I posted it at like, 10 o’clock that night. I get up the next morning and i’m getting ready for work and my wife says ‘You know you have like a thousand views?’ I was like ‘Is that good? I don’t know!’.” He said with a laugh. “ I was just blown away by the tentacles that that machine has. It’s kind of changed my mind about social media, in that i’ve gotten so much support from it.”
Seaton has gotten more and more creative with social media as time drew closer to the race. “I started to think about any way that I could connect with people,” he said. “I’ve taken, what some people call funny videos, of me running through a creek and up a hill. So another thing I did was post that I would physically run to your house to get a donation, and (there was) several hundred dollars I raised that day. This week I did a thing where (I posted) that I needed a 32 hour playlist, and anybody who said something nice to me or donated give me your song and when I hear it I will think of you and your encouragement, and now I have about a 6 hour playlist. So there’s plenty of creative ways you can connect with people.”
Now Seaton’s father has made his own emotional Facebook video, with views still climbing by the hour. In the video Mark Seaton speaks to his other children and to Marty. “As years go on Alzheimer’s, without a doubt, will attack my mind and my memories. It will take away some of the things that I hold most dear... Please know as my mind goes I will keep all of my love for you deep in my heart, and keep it in a place where this disease can never reach.”
If you would like to donate to Marty’s cause or view his videos, and to support Alzheimer’s research and funding visit Alz.org, and search for Marty Seaton.