Pat said: “You Win In Life With People” and “You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you handle it.”
So much has been written these past few days, and rightly so, about the life and passing of a Coaching Legend. She was diagnosed with early onset Alzhiemer’s disease in her late 50’s and died at age 64 through complications caused by the disease. Pat sought to redirect her life following that fateful first diagnosis and, as with basketball coaching, she stepped up and through her foundation did everything within her power to increase awareness and promote fundraising for science and research to continue seeking a cure for this terrible affliction.
During the past few weeks we have also seen the loveable Irish golf commentator and raconteur, David Feherty speak about his Father’s fight with Alzheimer’s and then, this week he broadcast a poignant interview with fellow commentator Peter Oosterhuis.
These real life, dramatic stories of sports stars attract folk like me who admit a passion for sports of many types. I am a sports “nut” and for good reason. A tennis playing daughter-in-law, another who is in the UVA Lacrosse Hall of Fame and a gold medal winner competing for the USA in the women’s lacrosse World Cup. My sons are professional golfers too, but sadly this author was not blessed with his “kids” level of talent! But this is not the point of my story!
I think it is wonderful that famous people in the public eye, especially sports stars, are prepared to step up and increase awareness of the huge Alzheimer’s and dementia problem. Even more so the brave like Pat and Peter. You see, at the end of the day they are no different to many of the participants who spend each week day with us at Memory Matters. They are all human beings afflicted with a so far incurable disease.
By standing up to the dementia at an early stage and devoting the rest of their lives to helping combat the disease they and others like them are providing a great service to our human race. They are not only encouraging research but acting as role models and, very importantly, bringing focus on the family caregivers who desperately deserve our help and encouragement. Pat and Peter have acted as beacons searching for the “impossible dream” I wrote about recently. Many “stars” wax lyrical about more fashionable good causes, but for Pat and Peter to speak to the very nature of this insidious disease and personally lead from the front is exceptional.
So back at Memory Matters this week Melissa and Cathee led their teams of volunteers to provide programs including but not limited to, news reviews, stories of global significance, funny stories, square dancing demonstrations, live guitar music and singing, dancing, trivia quizzes, interactive games and last but by no means least the facilitation of enjoyable socialization.
Why? Because the caregivers deserve our collective care, help and respite and, the whole family including those diagnosed with a dementia deserve to be treated with dignity and the hope of enjoying an extended quality of life in their own home!
That’s what Memory Matters does for families. Striving to maintain the integral family home is a key objective for which Pat and Peter have bravely fought. Realistically it is not always possible for every family to keep their loved one at home forever, but it is a wonderful ideal.
The Pat Summitt story brings hope that the world will work harder for solutions and in a modest way leads us to consider the distinctive values that Memory Matters strives to sustain.
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