I’m 80 Years Old, and I Run Marathons for Brain Research!

By Tom Coles,
Marathoner and Brain Research Supporter!

Tom Coles looking GOOD at the 2011 Detroit Marathon!

I remember when I found out about the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (then called NARSAD) soon after it was founded in 1987, with its mission to raise money for important research to better understand and treat mental illness. I had become involved with NAMI in late 1986 as a result of the oldest of our seven children becoming ill, diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1977, and was happy to hear about an organization dedicated to funding research.

In 1987, I had just become President of this new NAMI affiliate in a Detroit suburb (when the founding president’ moved away for work) and I said to the members, “raising money for research should be our affiliate’s major cause.” We were brainstorming ideas to raise money, from bake sales, to car washes, and everything in between. I mentioned having completed six Detroit marathons from 1979 to 1985. I thought at this stage I had given up marathons! But I said I’d go back to doing 26.2 milers (and the required training, which is not so easy!!) if NAMI asked for money (which is also not so easy!), and spread the word among relatives and friends. They liked the idea!

So I did my first marathon for the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation in 1987 at age 56. I didn’t do one every year, as life with seven children can be busy! My family really thought I should give it up! I even mixed in five century bicycle rides as a result in some years.

This past year, 2011, was my 13th marathon for the cause. I had some qualms about that number before doing it! But the cause was more important than the “unlucky number” 13, so I just did it! And although the forecast was for some rain, we only had a few sprinkles. The cause is GREAT and my efforts paid off!

Tom recently made the news for his incredible accomplishments. Click here to read the interview!


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