Longtime University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt inspired many who advocate for Alzheimer’s Disease awareness in the Milwaukee area.
Summitt, who passed away Tuesday, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011.
In 2012, she visited Milwaukee as part of a “We Back Pat” fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association.
“She brought a public face, a prominent face, to Alzheimer’s Disease,” said MaryAnn Vance, Development Director for the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Vance said she met Summitt at the 2012 fundraiser.
“I was caring for my Mom at the time, who had Alzheimer’s, so we got to talk about that,” Vance said. “It was pretty cool to get that opportunity.”
Vance hopes Summitt’s story and bravery after being diagnosed will help raise awareness for funding Alzheimer’s research.
She said the disease, which is fatal, has no cure and is currently the top cause of forgetfulness, or Dementia.
“Alzheimer’s is not normal aging. Your brain cells are being destroyed,” Vance said.
Vance said people struggling with Alzheimer’s, or their caregivers, can visit alz.org or call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900. She said the association provides support groups and other resources, for free, to those who need them.