Alzheimer Issues
University Of Tennessee Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt Assumed New Role As 'Coach Of The Alzheimer's Movement'
Apr 26, 2012 - 9:26:12 AM

( - WASHINGTON, April 25, 2012 -- After being awarded the Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award at the Alzheimer's Association National Dinner onTuesday, April 24, University of Tennessee Women's Basketball Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt and her son, Tyler Summitt, told an audience of nearly 1,000 advocates that they were proud to join the Alzheimer's team. Coach Summitt even gave Alzheimer's disease, the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S., her legendary stare, invoking a second standing ovation from advocates, fellow individuals living with Alzheimer's and fans. The evening was hosted by Meredith Vieira, Special Correspondent for NBC News and host of ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," whose brother is currently living with Alzheimer's disease.


Leader in the Alzheimer's movement, journalist and author, Maria Shriver, whose father Sargent Shriver passed away from Alzheimer's, presented the Alzheimer's Association Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award to Coach Summitt and Tyler. This honor recognizes an individual, organization or company whose actions have promoted greater understanding of Alzheimer's disease and its effects on diagnosed individuals, families and caregivers. Coach Summitt, the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, publically shared her diagnosis of early onset, Alzheimer's type, last August at the age of 59. She and her son Tyler Summitt then created The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, a fund of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, to provide grants to nonprofits like the Alzheimer's Association that raise awareness of the disease, support families and advance research, all while Coach Summitt led the Lady Vols to an impressive 27-9 season.

"Thank you to the Alzheimer's Association for honoring Tyler and I with this award," said Coach Summitt. "Tyler and I made the decision to fight and to fight publicly. We couldn't change my diagnosis, but we could try to do something positive with it. Working as a team, we can make a difference in the lives of millions of people who are living with this disease and the millions more who are caring for them."

The National Dinner brought together advocates from across the country who were in Washington D.C. for the Alzheimer's Association Advocacy Forum. Actress Jane Seymour helped spotlight the human side the disease by inviting people in the room to stand and declare "The End of Alzheimer's Starts with Me."

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Representative Mike Burgess, M.D., (R-TX), Colonel Karl E. Friedl, Ph.D. and advocate Garrett Davis were also honored for their critical work in the fight against Alzheimer's. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Representative Mike Burgess, M.D., (R-TX) received the Alzheimer's Association Humanitarian Award, annually bestowed upon public officials who have made significant policy contribution to advancements in research and enhanced care and support for people with Alzheimer's disease. Senator Stabenow introduced the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act in the Senate. She was a champion of the National Alzheimer's Project Act and continues to work for a strong National Alzheimer's Plan. During health care reform, Senator Stabenow worked to ensure that the Medicare Annual Wellness visit included the detection of cognitive impairment. She is also a member of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease. Dr. Burgess has been a key leader on Alzheimer's issues. He was a critical voice in support of the passage of the National Alzheimer's Project Act and is an original cosponsor of both the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act and the HOPE for Alzheimer's Act in the House of Representatives. In addition, he introduced the "Making Investments Now for Dementia (MIND) Act" that the Alzheimer's Association has endorsed.

The Alzheimer's Association Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Award, reserved for those who make significant advancements in Alzheimer's research, was presented to Colonel Karl E. Friedl, Ph.D., Director, Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, located at Fort Detrick, Maryland. COL. Friedl has been a stalwart leader in supporting innovative, outcome-oriented research programs, including the Peer-Reviewed Alzheimer's Research Program. Under his leadership, the Peer-Reviewed Alzheimer's Research Program concentrates on groundbreaking research relevant to both the military and the Alzheimer's community, particularly better understanding traumatic brain injury and its association to Alzheimer's disease. The program also invests in new strategies dedicated to improving the quality of life for those affected by the disease.

Garrett Davis, an Alzheimer's Association Ambassador from North Carolina, received the Alzheimer's Association Advocate Award, presented annually to an extraordinary Alzheimer's advocate who has shown outstanding leadership. A playwright and an actor, he created the "Forget Me Not Project" as a tribute to his grandmother, who died of Alzheimer's while Garrett was in college, and the family members who cared for her. The play explores one family's experience with Alzheimer's and aims to raise awareness of the disease and the need for increased support, services and federal research funding. In the course of researching the play, Garrett learned how underfunded Alzheimer's research is and was spurred to become involved with advocacy.

For more information about Alzheimer's disease or the Alzheimer's Association National Dinner, visit

About the Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's. Visit or call 800-272-3900.

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