A life worth fighting for

Published 10:48 pm Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I’ve seen the community in Suffolk work miracles for local non-profits trying to raise money, and I saw it happen again this week.

The Alzheimer’s Association moved its Western Tidewater walk to Suffolk this year with the hopes that being more public would help bring awareness to the disease and the organization’s presence in the community.

The community responded by making sure it was a success.

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The walk brought in $10,000 more than it did last year, and met its year-end goal by the day of the walk. Funds are still being collected for the fiscal year through Nov. 15.

In my interviews, I had a few people say that the research being done on Alzheimer’s in underfunded, but they didn’t want to speculate on the record why that was so.

Maybe it’s because it’s just not widely known. For so long, people kept the disease under wraps. A breakthrough wasn’t made until at least 80 years after its first record. In the time between, people with Alzheimer’s were considered to be senile.

The stigma that attached itself to Alzheimer’s is something people are still working hard to dispel.

Maybe a reason it’s underfunded is because people think they aren’t or won’t be affected by it. While Alzheimer’s is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, if you haven’t already seen the effect of it, you’ll soon have a chance.

As the Baby Boomers age, if a cure isn’t found, the generation could bankrupt Medicaid.

Another answer, that was off the record, was that maybe people don’t want to fund research to save elderly people. Maybe, they think, their money and time would be better spent funding research for diseases that affect younger people who haven’t lived out their lives.

The truth of the matter, that I’ve seen firsthand, is that this disease not only robs people of their lives to be lived, but it robs them of the lives they have lived.

The good they’ve done in the world can never be reversed, but to them none of it ever was.

Furthermore, it’s a misnomer that this disease only affects the elderly. One of the stories I told was that of a 57-year-old man. It’s also a disease that takes decades to show noticeable results. Many of those who have it don’t know it yet.

So, while we’re putting forth the effort to make sure young people have lives, let’s continue to make sure they’re going to be able to remember those lives they’ve lived, the children they have and the good that they’ve done.