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Member Spotlight: Jeremy Latham

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This week’s Member Spotlight features Charity Miles member Jeremy Latham! I had the unique opportunity of studying abroad with Jeremy in the Spring 2018 semester while traveling around the world aboard the MV World Odyssey on Semester at Sea! Jeremy, a Paducah, Kentucky native spent his summer biking across the US from coast to coast while raising funds to benefit Alzheimer's research!

Jeremy is currently a junior at Western Kentucky University. “I am pursuing a major in Biochemistry with minors in both Biophysics and Economics, following a Pre-Medical concentration.” He is certainly setting the bar high in regard to career aspirations.

“When I was a junior in high school my grandmother moved into a condo a mile away from my house. She was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother who only wished to improve the lives of those around her. I remember driving her to my soccer games, celebrating with her at my graduation, boating with her in the summertime, and laughing at her tacky jokes during our many dinner dates. Unfortunately, she doesn’t remember any of this anymore as she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016. It is now heartbreaking to visit her in an assisted-living facility as she struggles to remember which grandchild I am, much less all the smiles and memories we shared.”

After seeing his grandmother’s rapidly declining mental state Jeremy to be proactive, embarking on the 3600-mile cross-country bike trip with several classmates as part of Bike4Alz, a group of WKU fraternity students who come together each summer to fundraise for Alzheimer's research. Bike4Alz has raised nearly $250,000 since its creation in 2010! “My family, like many others, has been affected by Alzheimer’s disease and I am riding to join the fight. I was lucky enough to ride with 12 of my best friends, 11 of which are members of Phi Gamma Delta at WKU. We started our trek in San Francisco, CA, and finished in Virginia Beach, VA, essentially bisecting the country. We started in California, then made it to Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, and finished in Virginia. The trip took approximately 10 weeks in total. We began riding on May 18 and finished on July 23.”

“Each state provided unique challenges: the mountains of Colorado, the headwinds of Kansas, and the storms in Missouri. All of which made the ride memorable and enjoyable.” When discussing his favorite state along the route, Kentucky quickly came to mind. “My favorite state would have to be Kentucky. I know that sounds generic, but once we crossed the river to enter Kentucky, it finally felt like we were almost done, especially since our first stop in Kentucky was in my hometown of Paducah. In my mind, I always knew that we were making progress, I could see our blue dot moving on maps, but it wasn’t until I got back home and started seeing familiar faces that it really sunk in. And once we got to Kentucky, we “shifted gears” a little from biking every day to having rest days where we would host fundraising events and visit local memory care facilities.”

“I was not an avid biker before the ride, and neither was just about any of the other riders. However, our motivations for the ride were clear and that drive alone was enough to get us from the Pacific to the Atlantic. I started using Charity Miles in California and tried to use it every day that I could. I chose to use Charity Miles because it provided an extremely quick and easy resource to raise more money… plus I met this really cool guy on Semester at Sea who recommended it to me. I used the app to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Although Jeremy completed his ride several months ago, he is still active in the fight against Alzheimer’s. “Now that I am back to everyday life, I am still doing what I can to fight Alzheimer’s disease. Bike4Alz just recently elected our next president and we are in the process of planning the 2019 ride now. I have dived back into my biochemistry courses and look forward to attending medical school so that one day I may be able to make an impact against this terrible disease.”

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