Mark Applegate, a 1989 Republic High School graduate and former Tiger baseball pitcher, is literally stepping up his efforts to raise money and awareness to fight Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. A passionate advocate for Alzheimer’s awareness, Applegate is climb stairs for nine hours on four consecutive days this week — at four different locations across Missouri.
(You can donate to Applegate’s fundraiser here.)
Applegate was in Kansas City today, climbing stairs at the Board of Trade Lofts in the Library District. Tomorrow he will be climbing at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Wednesday he’ll be climbing the outdoor stairs in Cape Girardeau from the courthouse to the downtown area. Thursday he’ll return to southwest Missouri and climb at Hammons Tower. He’ll finish up by walking from the tower to Jordan Valley Park, where the Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held in September.
Applegate’s efforts are part of “The Longest Day,” an annual event organized by the Alzheimer’s Association that encourages people to perform a long-duration activity on or around June 20, the summer solstice and longest day of each year, in honor of loved ones affected by Alzheimer’s. Applegate’s advocacy for Alzheimer’s awareness is personal.
“I lost my grandma and my uncle with the disease. My great grandfather likely had it too. My mom was diagnosed with mixed dementia (Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia) at age 65, coming up on 14 years ago,” he said.
In Kansas City, Applegate went up and down the stairs of the 12-story building 35 times over his nine-hour trek. His fitness band tells him he burned 4500 calories on his first day of stair-climbing. He worked in some media interviews about his cause while he was at it.
Applegate also works at SeniorAge, an agency that serves older residents at a higher risk of the disease. He serves on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s committee, and he’s an Alzheimer’s ambassador for US Representative Mark Alford.
“I want to help, and (I) find both value and relief from doing something to help. Watching from a distance would be much harder on me than trying to help,” Applegate said.
In 2021, Applegate jogged and walked the entire length of the Frisco Highline Trail — 35 miles — over about a 12-hour period to commemorate the day. In the process of preparing for that event, he lost 120 pounds and raised more than $6,000. He ran twice as far last year for his fundraiser, and he’s tackling the stairs this time around.
Applegate shares his experiences, knowledge, and advocacy effort on his Facebook page and blog, Digital Cornbread.