Death and dying are just part of life.  Diseases have plagued mankind since the beginning.  Through thousands of years of trial and error, research and technological advances, we’ve managed to beat back so many things that once were guaranteed death sentences.  The woman pictured above is my mother, Patricia.  She suffers from this horrible disease, as did her mother and two of her sisters.  She also has a brother who is also living with the disease.  I wanted you to have a real face to put with this disease, someone living right here among all of you.  There is nothing more difficult than watching Alzheimer's slowly destroy someone you love.

The flu, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, polio, TB; all of these and more are successfully treated and even defeated today.  But there is one disease that we cannot conquer, at least not yet: Alzheimer’s disease.  Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of the brain that slowly but surely destroys its victim’s memories, abilities and independence.  Unlike cancer, heart disease and many others, there are no survivor stories with Alzheimer’s.

Discovered in the early 1900’s by Dr. Aloysius "Alois" Alzheimer, this form of dementia would become known as Alzheimer’s disease by 1910, five years before the doctor himself died of heart failure in Prussia (modern-day Poland).  But it would be six to seven more decades before most of the world would really know the term.  Many doctors still don’t have a good grasp of the disease and treatments have only begun to make it into mainstream medical science in the last ten years or so.  Still, there is no way to reverse the disease and no way to cure it.

This Saturday, September 24, I will again have the privilege and the honor of serving as emcee for the annual Alzheimer’s Association’s ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’.  This year’s walk will take place in downtown Wichita Falls at 9th and Ohio at Bud Daniel Park.  Registration begins at 7:30 am; the ceremony starts at 8:30 and the walk at 9:30 am.

I can guarantee that, if you don’t know someone who is currently suffering this disease, you will.  The local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, led by my good friend Patty Taylor, works tirelessly to assist the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients across a ten county area of North Texas.  We need your help to continue to raise awareness of this disease and to help find a cure.  If you can take part in the walk, please do, but even if you cannot, please make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.  You can contact the Wichita Falls office at 940-767-8800 or visit http://www.alz.org/northcentraltexas/

On behalf of my mom, Alzheimer’s patients everywhere and their caregivers-thank you and God Bless you for your support.