The Florence Forth race is organized by and for the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance. Proceeds from Florence Forth allow the AE Alliance to raise awareness, educate doctors and improve clinical care so that no one faces autoimmune encephalitis (AE) alone.

About the Florence Forth Road Race


Florence Forth was started by Leslie and Will McDow who lost their daughter Florence on March 4th, 2012 after a long battle with autoimmune encephalitis.  Florence was a healthy, vibrant 2 year old when the first symptoms of AE emerged.  Over the next four years, the disease caused neurological complications and developmental delays.  The search for a diagnosis and eventually a treatment lead us to realize the need for increased awareness, improved clinical care and expanded research.

Along with Florence’s sister Laura, the McDow’s named the race Florence Forth to commemorate the day that six-year-old Florence died – March Fourth. Inspired by “the day that is also a command,” they heard a charge to accelerate the search for a cure, provide care to affected families and form a community of collaboration and concern.  It was through this command to Florence Forth that the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance was organized.

About The Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance

The AE Alliance was founded by Leslie and Will McDow along with Daniel and Helen Egger who share a common bond of children with autoimmune encephalitis.  The AE Alliance was created so that no one would have to face this disease alone.

Autoimmune encephalitis is a rare and serious condition in which the immune system attacks the brain, resulting in impaired brain function.  The impairment may be reversible with rapid diagnosis and effective treatment, but may also result in permanent brain injury or even death.

Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance Logo

The Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance was founded in December 2012 and is a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit. The AE Alliance connects families, doctors and communities to improve the lives of children by coordinating care, treatment and research across medical disciplines.

All proceeds from the Florence Forth road race support the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance.  In 2014, proceeds enabled the AE Alliance to host the first International Symposium on Autoimmune Encephalitis.  Read about the symposium in a blog post on the AE Alliance website.  Remaining proceeds were used to increase awareness and knowledge in the medical community through Grand Rounds (lectures) at Duke, Stanford and UC Davis Medical Centers.  The AE Alliance’s website includes an educational movie with footage of Florence Forth and other information about AE.

Help support the AE Alliance by participating in the Florence Forth road race as a runner, sponsor or volunteer.