Who are the Alzheimer’s heroes among us? You might think of brilliant scientists like Dr. Rudy Tanzi, whose decades of breakthrough research is paving the way towards a cure. You might think of the government leaders who established the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act, to ensure appropriate and efficient funding for Alzheimer’s.
Then, there are the millions of everyday Alzheimer’s heroes. These are the everyday people who go above and beyond to make a difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Over the next few weeks, I will share examples of such heroes.
My sister, Leslie Lonergan McCabe, is one of them.
Everyday life is beyond busy for Leslie. She juggles a full-time job, a household of three teenagers, travel basketball team schedules, helping her son with college application deadlines, and a thousand other everyday “little” things that fall into the daily life of being a mom. Time is a precious commodity. And in the little spare time she has, Leslie trained for the Novant Health Charlotte marathon in support of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to funding research with the highest probability of preventing, slowing or reversing Alzheimer’s disease. Since its founding, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has contributed more than $40,000,000 to research.
Training for a marathon isn’t easy – especially when you have a full plate like Leslie. How did she do it? Dedication. It meant getting up at 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings to meet up with her running club. It meant grueling 15+ mile training runs in South Carolina humidity. It meant pushing through exhaustion, pain and sometimes even a few tears. It meant not giving up. Most of all, it was about honoring our mom, Bobbie Lonergan.
It’s been nearly four years since we lost our mom to Alzheimer’s disease. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t miss her. During the marathon on November 12, Leslie channeled our mom’s positive spirit and determination. Our mom was all about seeing the positive side of life, no matter how bleak the situation was. With Alzheimer’s, it’s easy to focus on what’s been taken away. During her 8-year battle with Alzheimer’s, we saw pieces of mom disappear before our eyes. However, our mom always kept her loving heart. This was a gift for love that has no limits and love endures. On November 12th, Mom’s love was with Leslie every step of the way as she ran those 26.2 miles.
With over five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, there are everyday heroes everywhere we look. As November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to pause and take a moment to thank them. Thank you, Leslie Lonergan McCabe. I’m so proud of you and so thankful for you. Each mile you run will make a difference for Alzheimer’s!