2017 Florence Forth Volunteers and AE Patients

In 2017 we hosted the fifth annual Florence Forth and raised $40,000 for the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance. With over 1200 registered runners, this was the biggest Florence Forth yet. For this blog, we want to remember two groups that make Florence Forth so special: volunteers and AE patients and their families. Register for the 10th Annual Florence Forth on March 5, 2022.


Even as the race grew, participants continued to tell us that we had captured something special with Florence Forth. It is more than just a road race. We always replied that our volunteers make Florence Forth awesome! Each year we have upwards of 100 volunteers help make Florence Forth possible. From neighborhood friends to members of local churches to folks who just ask to help. Here we want to highlight two local schools that have been at the heart of Florence Forth.

Camelot Academy has run a water station along the course for all but the first year. These high school students set up the water station, hand out water and clean up after the race. This group has taken their role so seriously that one year the group spent the night at one person’s house near the course so as not to deal with road closures in order to get to their post! They are always upbeat and amazing to have on the course!

The North Carolina School of Math and Science cross country team sends a dozen or more students to help at the finish line. They set up the refreshments, hand out medals, and help ensure smooth operations at the finish.. Their coach, Charlie Payne, has instilled service into their team charter. And it shows.

We love the energy, kindness, and sense of community these groups and all our volunteers bring to Florence Forth.We can’t thank these and other groups enough who have given their time and energy to Florence Forth!

Families and Patients

Proceeds from Florence Forth supports the mission of the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance. Most of the families that engage with us have patients that are children. But by 2017, we were meeting more adults recovering from AE. One of those patients, Bob Givens became very active in Florence Forth and the AE Alliance. In 2017 he and his wife flew from California to attend Florence Forth and the Family Lunch. Bob joined 18 other families at this year’s Family Lunch, sharing stories of recovery and resilience. Bob asked to write a blog the following year. He titled it “Your support saved my life.

The pictures below are from the Family Lunch, showing the families and patients who travel to Durham each year to take part in Florence Forth.