Non-runner set to begin 'torture' of run to NYC - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Non-runner set to begin 'torture' of run to NYC

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Mangini rests after taking a warm-up run around a neighborhood Sunday, May 6. (Scott Garrand/WCIV) Mangini rests after taking a warm-up run around a neighborhood Sunday, May 6. (Scott Garrand/WCIV)

By Brian Troutman
btroutman@abcnews4.com

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- He's not a runner. In fact, he hates running. Yet Monday, James Mangini III will start a 1,000-mile run to New York City.

The pain, he says, will be temporary and a minor struggle in comparison to the struggles of  those whom struggle with Parkinson's disease.

According to research by the Parkinson's Disease foundation, as many as one million Americans live with Parkinson's disease. That number is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease.

Mangini wants those he meets on his run to remember that statistic and to think strongly about making a donation to Parkinson's research. While its treatable, scientists and doctors are still working to find a cure.

"My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease about six years ago," Mangini said. "I became good friends with a lot of individuals from the Parkinson's community. So, I just really felt inspired to do something a little bit bigger than what I was doing -- create some noise for the foundation and raise some funds for research."

Mangini became involved with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease Research about eight months ago. The idea to run to New York to raise money and awareness for research came to him one morning when he woke up.

"I thought it was a good idea and good representation of what the Parkinson's community goes through each day," he said. "They face their challenges, sometimes even buttoning up a shirt. So, I felt like putting myself through this type of physical torture, if you will, for 30 days to honor that community."

Mangini's journey is planned out for the next 30 days -- 35 miles a day. If he keeps on schedule, he should reach New York by June 7.

Hours before starting his trek, he was experiencing a melting-pot of emotions -- joy, excitement, honor, pride and a little bit of worry. He's worried about how his body will hold up.

He said those feelings of worry, when he gets them, are quickly replaced by several supporters.

"Reaction has been amazing... People have been supportive and encouraging."

As he laces up his shoes and prepares to battle the elements on his 1,000-mile trip, he says his personal connection to the disease will be motivation enough to keep him going. In addition to his father being diagnosed in recent years, he has had a great grandfather and several cousins diagnosed with the disease. Mangini himself is currently under the care of a neurologist to check for early signs of Parkinson's disease.

"We want a cure for this disease," he said. 'It really starts with funding the right research."

To donate to Parkinson's research via Mangini's 1,000 Mile Marathon, click here.

* ABC News 4's Scott Garrand contributed to this report.

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