As one of the top causes of death in America, Alzheimer’s is an incurable disease that is predicted to affect 1 in every 85 Americans by the year 2050. Fijis Across America was one advocacy event that aimed to educate and promote awareness for this disease last summer. However, we are still fighting and there are millions of people in this nation that deal with the effects of Alzheimer’s every day. Last Thursday, February 3, 2011, I had the opportunity to travel with four of the riders from Fijis Across America to the state capitol of Kentucky, to be a part of Kentucky’s Alzheimer’s Advocacy day. We were able to meet prominent leaders in this fight against Alzheimer’s and rally our cause with influential leaders of our state.
We began the morning by visiting representatives of our respected areas, encouraging them to support a House Bill that will make it easier for the millions of caretakers around the nation to support their families and friends suffering from this terminal disease. The rally included speeches from First Lady of Kentucky Jane Beshear, Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, and ESPN writer Pat Forde. We were recognized at the rally and Tyler Jury had the opportunity to speak about the ride and his grandfather’s struggle with Alzheimer’s. To see people of such stature and influence speak about their own experiences with this disease connected the entire room with a special bond.
It is easy to get lost in every-day life, become consumed with our selves, and forget the pain that millions of people go through each day. Even after the months of difficult obstacles we faced this past summer in the name of Alzheimer’s, it is still easy to get lost in our own lives. This was a bittersweet reminder of the suffering that is all around us, and the bond that connects everyone that has dealt with this disease. There are still years of research ahead, millions of dollars needed, and endless support required. Even so, advocacy for Alzheimer’s presses on.
Brother Calvin Coolidge once said: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”