Alpha Stories

Published on Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Alpha completes 17-mile Virtual Walk

Alpha completes 17-mile Virtual Walk

To sign up for the 2016 Virtual Walk, click here.

John Hayes walks a lot. Averaging seven miles daily, he works his way up to 10 miles at least one day a week.

When he decided to do the Virtual Walk for Alpha-1, he wanted it to be even more special, and it was. Hayes took a solitary stroll from Pier Park to the Sellwood neighborhood in Portland, Oregon on November 4, covering more than 17 miles.

When he is not walking, Hayes, 59, a ZZ lung-affected Alpha, also keeps himself fit by playing softball and practicing tai chi.

“I truly feel all this exercise has been life-changing, and it makes me see my Alpha-1 as a condition to be managed rather than as a disease that has changed my life for the worse,” he said. “While I realize the future is always uncertain, my life is good!”

John Hayes

Organized by the Alpha-1 Foundation, the first annual “Virtual Walk for Alpha-1” allows anyone who wants to make a difference in the Alpha-1 community to contribute in their own style, in their own time, and at their own pace during November, Alpha-1 Awareness Month.

“We applaud John’s dedication to making such a long Virtual Walk, as it truly captures the essence of Alpha-1 Awareness Month,” said Angela McBride, the Alpha-1 Foundation’s director of community engagement and development. “His outstanding endurance exemplifies our tireless efforts to find a cure for Alpha-1.”

Hayes was diagnosed with emphysema in the spring of 2001, and with Alpha-1 in early 2002. He has been on augmentation therapy since March of that year.

“I was very active when I was diagnosed, but became increasingly sedentary until a major life change in 2011, when I began walking as exercise,” he said, adding that when his marriage ended that year, he moved from rural Idaho to Portland, and began walking as a way to learn his new city. “From 2012 on, I've been on the 10,000 step a day program, though these days I set the minimum at 13,000 – six miles. I do that every day, rain or shine!”

McBride said: “All our Virtual Walkers around the country have amazing stories to tell, and we look forward to telling them soon.”

The final tally of the Virtual Walk will be released on Monday, along with the accomplishments of other Alpha-1 Awareness Month activities.

For more information about the Virtual Walk for Alpha-1, click here.

To view more photos of Hayes' Virtual Walk on his Facebook page, click here.