Dale Fredrickson

Fredrickson poses with University of Minnesota cheerleaders after recently completing the Gopher to Badger half-marathon, a journey from Lake Elmo to Hudson, Wisconsin. (Photo courtesy of Dale Fredrickson)

A Northfield man committed to combating Alzheimer’s disease has helped raise more than $10,000 this year.

Dale Fredrickson, a man the Northfield News profiled in April, has asked donors to pledge per mile or by donation. So far, he has received individual contributions of up to $1,000. A number of donations have been anonymous. Fredrickson has led fundraising efforts at town baseball games, including a game between Elko New Market and Northfield that raised $215, and another game between Northfield and Dundas raised $161. Through his Northfield softball league participation, Fredrickson raised $450, and he raised $384 earlier this month at a backyard party.

Fredrickson’s fundraising figure so far easily surpasses the $2,000 he aimed to raise initially.

He and Susan Busacker, an out-of-state resident whom Fredrickson met online, are raising funds for Alzheimer’s disease by participating in The Longest Day, an Alzheimer’s Association fundraising event to advance care, support and research efforts. Proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota and North Dakota. As of Thursday morning, Fredrickson was responsible for raising $8,000 and Busacker had raised $2,185.

Fredrickson said Busacker has done the difficult work.

“I’m going to give 99 percent of this whole credit to Susan,” Fredrickson said.

“Without her and her knowledge of what’s going on, I would have never even done this. The key to the whole thing is she had to know what we were talking about, why we were doing it, how important it is.”

At the beginning of his fundraising journey, Fredrickson was more focused on running races and collecting pledges per mile. Since then, his focus has evolved into overall fundraising and Alzheimer’s awareness efforts. When he does run, he wears a shirt with the URL to the fundraising website to alert his fellow runners about the cause.

Anyone interested in donating to Dale Fredrickson and Susan Busacker’s campaign against Alzheimer’s disease can do so through the Running for Gigi website, bit.ly/2ZmfT7P.

Gigi is a nickname for Busacker’s mother, who is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s.

Running the 5K at the Defeat of Jesse James Days Sept. 8 will place Fredrickson over 125 miles this year. He has five events remaining, including a 10K Oct. 19 in Mankato that will place Fredrickson over his goal of 150 miles. His last run is at the Northfield YMCA’s Jingle Bell Run in December.

“It’s been way more than I thought it would be,” he said.

“It’s the neatest thing I’ve ever done in life, but it’s also been the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

At times, Fredrickson, who began running marathons at age 36, has become emotional following the events because of the stories shared by fellow runners whose loved ones suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments, and have died.

“It’s just been unbelievable,” he said.

Fredrickson debated what cause he should raise money for for five years, adding that he became motivated to combat Alzheimer’s after seeing people around him either struggle with symptoms or have a loved one with the disease.

The National Institute on Aging describes Alzheimer’s disease as a “disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.”

NIH states that for most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s.

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia in older adults and the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. Fredrickson said that was a factor in his decision to raise money to fight the disease. He noted most people know someone who has a cognitive impairment, and approximately 30 percent of Northfield residents are above retirement age.

“It is such a pervasive illness,” he said.

Fredrickson plans to continue raising money to combat the disease next year.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

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