Last week, I had the privilege of joining friends and advocates from across the state who are dedicated to ending Alzheimer’s Disease. We came together for the Alzheimer’s Association of West Virginia’s annual “Thanks for the Memories” luncheon which honors those who are fighting for a cure, and working tirelessly and selflessly until that day comes.
Just as it is for so many who attended the luncheon, my passion to find a cure for Alzheimer’s is deeply personal. I know the pain of watching a loved one suffer from this dreadful disease, the helplessness of watching them slip away and then living on with the terrible and lasting scar of their loss. For me, it was my mother.
She remains a powerful presence for me — her grace, her strength and her vivacious spirit. And the pain I still feel from watching this disease rob her of her memory, is as real today as the moment my mother’s body finally surrendered to Alzheimer’s. The scar remains.
My beloved mother was so very strong. Such a fighter. But her resolve was powerless against the relentless march of Alzheimer’s.
Many West Virginians know what I’m talking about. They bear scars, too.
Last week I saw in so many faces a personal understanding of the tragedy of Alzheimer’s. It is this understanding that compels action and involvement in the fight against this disease. It is this understanding that allows so many to give selflessly of themselves and to allow hope to enter in.
And let there be no mistake: our single, overriding goal, is to end Alzheimer’s.
Is that an unrealistic goal? An impossible task?
Many will say that it is. Many will scoff at our ideals. But remember there were those who thought finding a cure for polio was impossible. That landing on the moon was but a dream.
But dreaming big dreams is the stuff we are made of. Solving insurmountable problems, against fantastic odds, is the very definition of who we are as advocates for a cure to Alzheimer’s.
I choose to believe that my mother’s death was not in vain. It’s why my family and I created the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, or BRNI headquartered right here in West Virginia.
Today, we hope that BRNI’s efforts will yield cutting edge of advancements into the causes and treatment of brain diseases. The world-class researchers at BRNI They are driven by the guiding ideals of so many in West Virginia: that ours is a fight worth having. That ours is a fight we can win.
And until that day arrives, we are so very grateful for the angels among us who care for those afflicted with this cruel disease. We are thankful for the incredible resources and help that the Alzheimer’s Association provides to families and communities.
In West Virginia, where we have more than 30,000 affected by Alzheimer’s, we are guided by a sacred and moral obligation to take care of our parents and loved ones in their time of need.
Though our scars will always be with us, we fight on. In the memory of those who’ve lost the battle, we fight on.
As we commemorate Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month this June, let’s resolve to never give up and always keep fighting.