Marathoner will raise money to fight ALS

Erica Ippoliti runs in support of her father who has the disease

Erica Ippoliti and her dad, Bill King, ran in the Marine Corps 10K in Washington, D.C. in 2015.

She’s running for a runner.

Erica Ippoliti will run the Hartford Marathon Saturday, Oct. 13. She’s running to raise money to for research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. She’s doing it for her father.

“My dad was diagnosed a year ago,” she said.

ALS, or “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” is a fatal progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As motor neurons cease functioning, ALS patients lose the ability to use their muscles.

“It’s hard to think about what they’re going to go through,” she said.

“I just felt like I should do something.”

Her father, Bill King, was a runner and they’d often raced together. Even when living far apart  they’d meet up and compete — a half marathon in Florida, a 10K in Washington, D.C. They’ve talked about a marathon — 26.2 miles.

On Saturday in Hartford, she’ll do it —not with him, but for him.

She’s raised more than $6,600 for the Les Turner ALS Foundation, a Chicago-based organization supporting “scientific research into the causes, treatments and prevention of ALS” and providing “clinical care and support services to people living with ALS, their families and caregivers” as well as education about the disease.

“Anything to spread the word and raise money for research,” Ippoliti said. “They’re starting to make some kind of progress, which is hopeful, but they’re still so far away.

“It’s not very often you meet a lot of people who really understand ALS. It’s such a devastating disease.”

Ippoliti’s parents, Bill King and Ronda King, live in Florida. They were in Ridgefield, on North Salem Road, from about 1998 to 2008.

Erica went to Ridgefield High School, where she met her husband, Anthony Ippoliti. They graduated from RHS in 2002

She went to Xavier University in Ohio, and taught first grade and kindergarten for five years in Virginia.

Now she works at Farmingville Elementary School.

“I just get to help out all the teachers,” she said. “I’m in the classroom. It’s a great school.”

The couple has three children: Aiden, 6, Emma, 5, and Anna, 2.

“We just moved back here this summer. We were overseas. We were in Jordan for three years and Malaysia for two,” she said.

“When we were in Malaysia, we found out,” she said of her father’s ALS.

The marathon helps her deal with it all.

“It definitely is a good coping strategy,” she said. It’s literally saved me from going totally crazy.”

Training, she’s run distances up to 20 miles.

I’ve been training with my sister-in-law, who’s also running with me, Amy Cerullo,” she said.

“It’s hard to run in Ridgefield with all the hills here. I’ve been running a couple of times a week.”

On her page at the Les Turner ALS Foundation website, she wrote: “My hope is that someday, when a patient is diagnosed with ALS, this won’t be a terminal disease. I hope there will be a cure or treatment that stops and reverses progression of this deadly disease.”

To support her, go to lesturnerals.org and navigate to the Team Race for ALS page and to Erica’s donation page.

The thought of helping people like her father has kept her going through the training.

“It’s motivating,” she said. “When I’m did a 20-mile run, when I’m at mile 16 I’m thinking: ‘This is stupid. This is painful.’ And then I just thought of my dad. He’d love to be running with me right now, but instead he’s stuck with this feeding tube and he can’t walk.

“He’s been my biggest cheerleader.”

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