Saturday, February 20, 2010

Let the Games Begin

I don’t know how the athletes are holding up, but watching the Olympics is wearing me out. I’ve not been to bed at a decent hour all week, and the Games have interfered with my TV routine too. I watched the selection of the twenty-four finalists on American Idol and Men’s Figure Skating at the same time. I began to feel positively artsy with the cultural overload.

This has been a glorious week for us ice skating fans. The drama of quads versus triple jumps plus spirals, steps, footwork, and transitions determined the difference between gold and silver. In my opinion, Evan Lysacek deserved the gold based on his overall performance. Sure, Yevgeny Plushenko had a power-house quad, but the rest of his program was mediocre.

Throughout the Olympics, athletes come to the games looking for a chance to outshine every other person competing in the same sport. For some, it’s the performance of a lifetime. Others stumble, fall, and jump back up to finish the competition or to smile and wave at the audience to let them know they are OK. Some athletes crave victory so much they choke and perform far below their potential.

We are surrounded by people who think one spectacular moment is more important than a lifetime of dedication to the details. They think jumps replace steps and a moment of glory is preferable to hanging in there to get the job done. The limelight must shine on them, or they lose interest.

Last night one of the announcers talked about how some of the top skiers showed up in style with 60 pairs of skies, technical advisors, and entourages. Bryon Wilson from Butte, Montana, in contrast, found support for his quest for an Olympic medal from hometown fundraisers like bake sales. The point being that whether the journey is easy or hard, once you are on the downhill slope and picking up speed, your chances are the same.

Those of us who have spent years advocating for a cure and effective treatment for Alzheimer’s are ready to leave the practice slope and compete with the big boys. Our journey for research funding has been a hard one—more in line with bake sales than big money and entourages. Alzheimer’s isn’t a trendy disease catching the attention of media or a bevy of superstars.

We are a disease represented by family members who know the pain of losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s. Sure, we have some celebrity spokespersons, and we appreciate all they do to promote awareness and help us in the battle for funding. David Hyde Pierce is one celebrity who has made Alzheimer’s awareness a personal mission. His steadfastness is unwavering.

To find funding in a tight economy takes years of persistence, dedication, and passion. Advocates return year after year to represent the 5.3 million Americans with Alzheimer’s. Without a cure, the number of cases will triple when the baby boomers age.

One sure thing—you can’t compete if you don’t show up for the event. If you cannot attend the Action Summit in March, lend your voice through an email or phone call to your legislators.

Tell your story and ask for their support to end this disease that steals a lifetime of memories. Support the 600 Alzheimer’s advocates who will be in Washington, DC, to compete for Alzheimer’s research dollars in a down economy and against a host of financial issues.

Instead of lighting an Olympic torch, we will light hundreds of candles for the Candlelight Vigil on March 8. Our candles shine in memory of our loved ones lost to the disease and with hope for a future without Alzheimer’s. When researchers find a cure for Alzheimer’s, we will cross that finish lane with arms held high in victory.
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