Healthy Living

Nothing Can Stop Alzheimer's Man from his 30th Festival 10 Mile Race

Nothing Can Stop Alzheimer's Man from his 30th Festival 10 Mile Race

Sam Younce is a runner, and he has Alzheimer’s disease. This disease, however, didn’t stop him from running his 30th race in the 41st HAP Crim Festival of Races in Flint, Michigan. Sam has never won the race, but to his friends and family, he is the ultimate winner. The Crim Festival of Races is an annual road running event with several races and walking events. The original distance was 10 miles and is the marque race as "The Crim" with its infamous Bradley Hills and blue line to keep runners on course.  

Sam Younce, 78, began his running career while in the U.S. Army, and a few years later after his release, he began to run all the time. According to Dorothy Younce (his wife), “He missed it (running) and just started running again for his own comfort. And then he started entering races.”

Sam has run in 14 marathons in Michigan and one ultra-marathon, a 39-mile run, in Holland.  Sam Younce has always loved the Crim Course. “I really like this course. It’s bigger and more friendly than any races - I’ve ever been in,” Sam said. “Last year was my slowest year because I stopped along the way to pet the dogs.”

But, this Crim’s race might just be Sam’s last. Diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease the first part of 2017, his son Bradley Younce said, “He’s in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s so I don’t know how many more Crim’s we’ll be able to run with him.”

Bradley Younce reminisces about his father as being an encouraging man. He never shamed Bradley when he was way overweight. Sam just kept running, and this motivated Bradley to be the best he could be.  To celebrate their father and his life of encouragement, Bradley and his siblings felt they need to do something special for their father; something that would keep his legacy alive. That particular thing was to run with Sam in the Crim Race he loved so much.

They formed a running group that included Sam’s sons, daughter, and grandson. Every member of the team wore neon green shirts reading “TEAM SAM” in support of their father. One shirt read SAM on the front with Dad-Papa-Hero-Inspiration on the back.

Sam smiled at the beginning of the race and claimed he knew nothing about the shirts or his family running with him. In addition to his children, by Sam’s side was his wife, Dorothy. Married for 57 years, Dorothy made a point of being with Sam in every Crim race. At times she ran or walked beside him, and sometimes she took videos from the sidelines.

His support group kept him on pace. He ran a sub-par 13-minutes-per mile pace, but the time didn’t mean anything to the family. They only wanted to run with their father. Bradley Younce said, “He’s been there for us. Life is a race, and part of the race is uphill. He’s been our inspiration and will continue to be through this stage of life in his race.”

Sam didn't win the race, but with the support of his family and the cheers of the crowd, he made it to the end of the 10-mile run.

Photo: Sam Younce in the 41st HAP Crim Festival of Races. Source: M Live.