Auburn’s Minister of Miles and his mission: Pastor runs to raise Alzheimer’s awareness

Running and religion keep Mark Joneschiet seen and heard and on the same path with the community he serves.

Auburn’s Mark Joneschiet

Running and religion keep Mark Joneschiet seen and heard and on the same path with the community he serves.

The Auburn pastor is an avid runner who takes his message to the streets, where he ministers to the homeless, indeed, anyone who wants to share the good word.

“I love it,” Joneschiet, 58, said of his work. “I pass out cards to people I meet. I stop to talk to them. … I blog, preach online … and look for opportunities to do public speaking.”

Joneschiet, a pastor at International House of Prayer Northwest in Federal Way, contributes as well to worthy causes.

The Minister of Miles, who operates a nonprofit ministry called The Running Pastor, participates in The Longest Day this weekend, joining a worldwide effort to honor those facing Alzheimer’s disease.

The sunrise-to-sunset event honors the strength, passion and endurance of those living with Alzheimer’s disease, and their caregivers. Teams complete a day filled with activity to raise funds and awareness for the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Joneschiet plans to complete a 14.5-mile run from Enumclaw to Auburn’s Les Gove Park on Saturday morning. By the end of the day, he hopes to have completed 21 miles in answer to the June 21 challenge of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“I am running (locally) the distance of the width of the United States for Alzheimer’s. I have already run close to 400 miles since April 1,” Joneschiet said of his mission.

The pastor runs between six and nine miles a day, taking Sundays off to rest.

“It’s the least I can do to help the victims of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia,” he said of his latest challenge.

Joneschiet and his supporters will provide a booth at a potluck in Les Gove Park for people who want to donate to the cause. Joneschiet expects to be at the booth around noon.

Doing it for dad

Joneschiet also is running in memory of his father, who died of dementia.

“My father suffered with dementia before he died. It is a horrible disease,” Joneschiet said. “It robs you of who you are. I have another family member who is suffering with it as well.”

Others are welcome to join Joneschiet on his run from Enumclaw to Auburn.

Further information can be found at runningpastor.net. Questions can be directed to runningpastornw@gmail.com.

Alzheimer’s disease is a growing epidemic and the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, including 100,000 in Washington state, and the number is estimated to grow to as many as 16 million by year 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

To start a team, or learn more about The Longest Day, visit alz.org/thelongestday or facebook.com/fightalz. For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.

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