On Wednesday afternoon, staff and advocates from AIM attended an exciting event, Women Leading the Way hosted by the Alzheimer’s Readiness Project. The event featured policymakers and advocates to illustrate why individuals need to be engaged to raise awareness to address the global crisis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Congressional speakers included Alzheimer’s champions Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Senator Ed Markey (MA) and focused on how the federal government needs to be investing more in Alzheimer’s research while also focusing on care and support. Senator Markey shared his story of his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s and also called for more research funding. In addition to policymakers, celebrity Alzheimer’s champion B. Smith and her husband Dan Gasby talked about the difficult journey of Alzheimer’s and why they are fighting to end this disease. As Dan quoted his wife, "I am not going to let this disease define me." Lynda Carter also shared her personal story of how she lost her mother to Alzheimer’s.
Wednesday evening’s speaker lineup was the strongest of the week in the convention hall. Speakers included Vice President and Dr. Biden, Vice Presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (VA) and President Obama. While the media was touting the speeches of both the President and Vice President, it was Senator Kaine’s remarks that resonated with much of the Alzheimer’s community. Senator Kaine, a member of the U.S. Senate Aging Committee, has been a champion for advocates in Virginia during his time in the Senate. Last night Senator Kaine spoke about Alzheimer’s disease, the first time any Vice Presidential candidate has done so at a party convention.
Sen. Stabenow with Alzheimer's Association Ambassador and former Advocate of the Year, Mary Gerard of New Jersey.
Senator Kaine: “Today, for my wife Anne and every strong woman in this country; for Nat, Woody, and Annella, and every young person starting out in life to make their own dreams real; for every man and woman serving in our military, at home and abroad; for every family working hard to get ahead and stay ahead; for my parents and in-laws and every senior citizen who hopes for a dignified retirement with health care and research to end diseases like Alzheimer's.”
And this morning, Senator Kaine sent out his first communication to Clinton/Kaine supporters and referenced his family connection to the disease. As the general election campaign unfolds, we’re hopeful that Senator Kaine will continue to raise Alzheimer’s disease as an important policy issue. Stay tuned to more from Philadelphia and the final night of the Democratic National Convention.
John Funderburk is the Finance Director of the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement.