Summitt Wins Final Game Against Alzheimer’s

It is imperative we quickly learn how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease or find more effective treatments — or the shortage of care providers families are now experiencing will pale in comparison to what is coming.

Some 5.5 million Americans currently live with the disease, but that number is expected to nearly triple by 2050. Health officials say if things don't change, we'll soon see diagnoses of epidemic proportions — 16 million in the next few decades.

Alzheimer's is devastating and deadly, which is why the celebration of the new Pat Summitt Clinic at the University of Tennessee Medical Center is so bittersweet. It was Coach Summitt's goal to see the center through to fruition when she was diagnosed in 2011. Sadly, she passed away of the disease in the fall of 2016.

Related: The Legacy of Legendary Coach Pat Summitt

The goal of the new center is to raise awareness about the disease, support research for Alzheimer's, and save minds and lives in the meantime.

"The establishment of The Pat Summitt Clinic at The University of Tennessee Medical Center allows us to dramatically increase our research, clinical trials, treatment, education, family caregiver support and other critical elements relative to the growing need for Alzheimer's related services throughout our region and beyond," Joe Landsman, president and CEO of The University of Tennessee Medical Center, said in a media release. "It's fitting that the clinic honors the unparalleled drive, determination, and commitment that Coach Pat Summitt demonstrated, and taught so many of us, whether it was in an effort to win a national championship or on a mission to seek an end to a terrible disease. The latter will prove to be Pat's greatest legacy."

Summit's son, Tyler, who worked on Alzheimer's advocacy with his mother, shared his own thoughts.

"Mom fought Alzheimer's head on, and when faced with the diagnosis, just as she handled every opponent she ever faced, she never hid in the shadows and she never admitted defeat," said Summitt. "With the opening of the clinic, in a way she's won her final game against Alzheimer's and the proof is the trophy that is The Pat Summitt Clinic. More victories for Mom will come with every patient and caregiver that walks through those doors and is impacted by this clinic."

A young mother and soccer coach, who had the opportunity to not only work with Summit but be taken under her wing when she was first hired at UT, wrote an article last month for a blog called besomebody.com. She called the piece, "Summitt's Seeds."

"We talk about legacy and hear stories of Pat and feel inspired to live bigger, which is good and what she would want. But it's important to remember her example … Legacy isn't about what you do, it's about who you are. It isn't about being someone well-known and important. Legacy is about making others feel known and important. It's not in the recognition, it's in the recognizing. It's not in the big, it's in the small," Jen Grubb wrote.

She added, "To leave a legacy is to leave a piece of yourself in everyone you come in contact with. To leave a legacy is to be intentional in planting the seeds you've been given. Because the trophies will fade, and the records will be broken, and the rings will rust … but what you leave in people can never die. It just grows and multiplies."

She finished with: "What is clearly evident in Coach Summitt's death is the power of her life."

Last Modified: January 17, 2017, 7:57 am

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