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5K race benefits families coping with ALS

Rockdale School System employee Brad Boling, far right, shown here with family members, from left, wife Lori, son Gib, 14, daughter Maci, 17, has been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Lori, Maci and Gib will participate in a 5K race in Olde Town Conyers to benefit local residents with ALS.

Rockdale School System employee Brad Boling, far right, shown here with family members, from left, wife Lori, son Gib, 14, daughter Maci, 17, has been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Lori, Maci and Gib will participate in a 5K race in Olde Town Conyers to benefit local residents with ALS.

Given Brad Boling's commitment to physical fitness -- both before and after he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) some eight months ago -- it's likely he's delighted that a 5K road race will soon be held locally to bring attention to the disease.

"We actually met at a health club," said Lori Boling, Brad's wife of 20 years. "He's always worked out and we still like to work out. He works out with our daughter and 'Big Rock' -- Todd Laird -- one of his friends at work."

The east metro-based Jacqui Priestley Foundation, established by longtime Newton County resident Genevieve Compton, will host the Eastview 5K Race at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 21 on Eastview Parkway near Olde Town Conyers.

Funds raised from the race will be used by the nonprofit foundation to help what Compton called "ALS families" who might be experiencing financial difficulties.

"We'll have funds available for ALS families for things like co-pay for medicine or for a wheelchair," Compton said. "Funds won't go directly to families, but to those who are providing services to them."

Compton, who serves as the executive officer for the Newton County Homebuilders Association, established the JP Foundation last year to honor her childhood friend, Jacqui Priestley, who died of ALS last October.

"Jacqui, who was born in England, and I grew up together in Brazil," Compton said.

"In 2010, she started having the symptoms of Lou Gehrig's disease. I went to visit her last year, and she succumbed to the disease in October. Having visited her, I saw what her family went through when insurance didn't kick in and they reached out to a lot of different foundations, organizations and churches to help offset costs, which included remodeling her parents' house.

"Having been through that with Jacqui, I came home and thought, 'What can I do in my own little way?' I thought if I started a nonprofit, that would be an easy way to directly help families that had been diagnosed with ALS. I started the foundation and got my (nonprofit) designation and started figuring out what I wanted to do and how I wanted to raise funds."

Compton decided to kick off her fundraising efforts with the road race, and in pursuing sponsorships learned of Brad Boling's situation. A Heritage High graduate, Brad Boling is the financial director for Rockdale County Public Schools.

"I was able to get in touch with Brad's father, who met with me to find out more about the organization and then contacted Brad and Lori," she said.

"One thing led to another and I've had dinner with them several times and have met the whole family. They posted their story on my website and now he's going to be my hero for the race, and in turn I've since heard of two or three others with ALS, so I'm hoping this will have far-reaching effects -- starting with Brad."

"We heard about (Compton) from my father-in-law -- she's such a sweet person," said Lori Boling, who teaches at Pine Street Elementary. "Her best friend died from ALS and she found out Brad had it. We just immediately liked her and invited her to our house for a cookout. I'm glad she's doing this. We need to find a cure -- it's been too long since Lou Gehrig and we need to find a cure."

Road races figure to play a key role in the fundraising efforts of the JP Foundation, Compton said, and she's already got another 5K scheduled for November.

"I've also got six (races) planned for next year, the majority at the Georgia International Horse Park, because I want to attract bigger crowds," said Compton, who added that she would be delighted to see 150 to 200 participants at the Eastview 5K Race.

"That's what I'm focused on. As this gets bigger, who knows where it will lead, because there are so many ways to raise money."

Lori Boling said she plans to run in the race with her daughter Maci, 17, and son Gib, 14, and she offers no excuses for being impatient for a cure.

"Brad is excited about the race and we're just amazed at all the support we've received," she said.

"Everyone is so sweet. There are a lot of good people out there. You can't believe how nice people can be, but I still say I'd like my old life back and my husband cured. For some reason, God picked Brad and we're going to have to deal with it. I just want him to be cured."

Co-sponsored by C Town Bikes, Nutrition Depot and Brown Bridge Christian Church, the registration fee for the Eastview 5K Race is $20 by July 1 and $25 thereafter. For more information on the race and on the JP Foundation, visit www.jpfoundation.net.