This Philly College Student Is Running 100 Consecutive 5Ks for Alzheimer’s Disease

Ethan Widrig, a senior at St. Joseph's University, is officially halfway through his "100 Days of 5Ks" in honor of his late grandmother.

St. Joe’s senior Ethan Widrig is running 100 days of 5Ks to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s, a disease that affected his late grandmother. / Photograph courtesy of Sandy Silverstein

When you hear the word “5K,” you probably think of a massive group of runners wearing numbered bibs, putting one laced sneaker in front of the other, and focusing on reaching the finish line. This is an extremely common sight in Philly, as the city hosts quite a number of 5Ks throughout the year. Whether a timed race or a fun run, these 3.1-milers get people moving for a cause, raising money and awareness for philanthropic institutions focused on healthcare, education, and the like.

While there are opportunities to run a 5K nearly every weekend in Philly, each is its own stand-alone event, happening only once per year. That means the hype and the effort might not build up until maybe a month in advance.

For one Philly college student, though, running a 5K every day has become the norm. Ethan Widrig, a senior at St. Joseph’s University, has dedicated himself to 100 days of consecutive 5Ks since August 26th. Today marks his official halfway point, his 50th run.

Widrig’s endeavor is both altruistic and deeply personal, as he is running to raise awareness and research funds for finding a cure to Alzheimer’s. His “100 Days of 5Ks” honors his grandmother, who passed away from Alzheimer’s when Widrig was a junior in high school. “I think the hardest part about Alzheimer’s is that their [those with Alzheimer’s] condition deteriorates over time,” Widrig says, suggesting that the disease makes grieving that much more difficult. Though busy with his senior-year course load, Widrig has no intention of stopping until he reaches day 100 on December 3rd. “I thought that [running 100 consecutive 5Ks] would demonstrate my commitment to the cause,” he says, “and offer a way for others to get involved.”

Widrig’s fundraising goal is $2,000, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA). To help his efforts, Widrig has taken his campaign to social media, documenting nearly every run on Instagram so supporters can monitor his progress. He hopes”the initiative picks up enough steam that [my] followers will start participating in the 5Ks,” Widrig notes on his fundraising page. Eventually, he plans to establish an organized 5K event as well as community walks.

The AFA has praised Widrig’s pledge, thanking him and everyone who has joined him for contributing to the fight against Alzheimer’s. “We are incredibly inspired by Ethan’s desire to make a difference and to raise Alzheimer’s awareness,” says Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President and CEO. “Working to create hope and improve the lives of others is an amazing and genuine tribute to his grandmother and to those affected by the disease.”

You can support Widrig’s campaign by visiting and donating to his fundraising page here.