Former Bloomfield Hills man travels around the world to raise money for Alzheimer’s disease research, running half-marathons in 50 states.
Jason Boschan won’t stop running.
The Bloomfield Hills native is one of about 1,000 people on the planet who has run a marathon on all seven continents and run in all six major marathons — Boston, London, Chicago, New York, Berlin and Tokyo.
Now the 40-year-old Charlotte, N.C., resident is on a mission to run a half-marathon in each of the 50 states.
Boschan doesn’t run to compete.
“I don’t train. I just run. I think I have respectable times in races because I’m so motivated,” he said.
So why does he run? Because of his grandfather, pediatrician Dr. Louis Heyman of Bloomfield Hills, who died in 2013 at age 88 from dementia.
Boschan’s driving passion is to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease research in honor of his grandfather, whom he called Papa.
Boschan’s cause is called Run4Papa.
“Watching my grandfather lose his ability to communicate because of dementia was absolutely heartbreaking,” Boschan said.
All of Boschan’s trips for races are self-funded. One-hundred percent of contributions to his cause fund research at Northwestern University’s Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Boschan has raised about $243,000 since 2012.
The next race on Boschan’s schedule is the Mount Rushmore Half-Marathon on Sept. 21 in Keystone, S.D.
The date and venue couldn’t be more appropriate.
Boschan’s grandfather died Sept. 21, 2013. This will be Boschan’s 21st half-marathon in the 21st state. His goal is to raise $2,121.
“The one place my grandfather wanted to visit before he passed away was Mount Rushmore,” Boschan said. “Unfortunately, because of his fragile mental state due to dementia, we were unable to get him there.”
Boschan’s wife, Carrie Boschan, and his parents, James and Shelley, Boschan will be in South Dakota with him for what will be an emotional half-marathon.
Boschan gets the word out about his cause mainly through social media.
Boschan’s website (run4papa.com) has about 3,500 monthly visitors.
He writes a blog, creates two- to three-minute YouTube videos of his races, and he communicates through his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
His videos have gotten more than 50,000 views and he has more than 5,000 followers on each of his social media platforms. His database of followers includes more than 2,000 personal acquaintances and more than 500,000 through Northwestern.
After never running a race in his life, Boschan has run in 12 marathons since 2000, including two before Run4Papa was founded. They were the London Marathon in 2000 and the New York City Marathon in 2010.
Boschan had to stop at mile 25.8 in the 2013 Boston Marathon because of the bombings at the finish line of the 26.2-mile race. He ran the Big 5 Marathon in South Africa in 2013 on an animal reserve.
He ran the Great Wall of China Marathon in 2012, ascending and descending 5,164 steps, and the Antarctica Marathon in below-freezing temperatures on frozen tundra alongside penguins, seals, whales and floating glaciers in 2016.
He ran the Tokyo and Berlin marathons last year.
All for Papa.
Emily Rogalski, associate director of Northwestern’s Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease, praised Boschan’s “extraordinary commitment” to the center.
“Jason’s fundraising efforts have been critical in launching new research initiatives at our center including a telemedicine-based speech therapy study for individuals with primary progressive aphasia, and new imaging biomarker studies important for detecting neurodegenerative disease,” Rogalski said.
Boschan graduated from the former Bloomfield Hills Andover High School in 1997 and the University of Michigan with a degree in sports management and communications in 2002.
When he isn’t running for Papa, he does marketing work for orthopedic surgeons.