Memo to Hillary: Stay true to your Alzheimer’s pledge

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Pat Summitt’s death this morning of complications from Alzheimer’s disease brought to mind a pledge that one of the candidates for president of the United States made earlier this year.

Democratic nominee-to-be Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged to devote $2 billion immediately to search for a cure for the killer disease.

I said then that I — and more than likely many other Americans — would keep the pressure on her after she takes the presidential oath of office next January.

I was impressed that she would make such a pledge, that she would target such a disease — one that affects loved ones arguably at least as much as it affects those who are afflicted by it.

Understand this: My interest in finding a cure for this disease is intensely personal. My family and I have lived through the horror of it, watching my mother waste away as the disease stole her cognitive ability over time. Another beloved member of my family is battling the disease right now and I am dreading what it will do to him eventually.

Pat Summitt demonstrated astonishing bravery when she announced she was suffering early-onset of Alzheimer’s-related dementia and then continued to coach her women’s basketball team at the University of Tennessee for one final season.

She deserves to be honored and mourned by Americans everywhere.

I’m going to look ahead, though, with the hope that if Hillary Clinton is elected president of the United States that she keeps her pledge to go after Alzheimer’s disease.

Many millions of us out here understand the pain this disease brings. The number of Americans affected by it only are going to grow as the nation ages.

Be advised, Mme. Secretary. We’ll be watching you carefully.

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