Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

March 10, 2012

Terrible Disease

Filed under: Misc — Freddie Keel @ 6:02 am

Alzheimer’s fund set up honoring legendary coach

CHRIS TOMLINSON, Associated Press
Updated 06:01 p.m., Tuesday, February 28, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The wife of legendary University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal said Tuesday she has created a fund to support Alzheimer’s disease research in his name.

Royal’s wife, Edith, told a joint legislative committee about her family foundation’s plan on Tuesday. Darrell Royal, who suffers from the disease, also appeared at the hearing along with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and actor Matthew McConaughey.

Edith Royal described the difficulty of caring for someone in the advanced stages of the disease, which results in dementia and sometimes violent behavior. She told the committee that she is thankful for all of the people who help her and her husband deal with the disease.

“Every day since Darrell’s diagnosis with dementia, I deal with the stress of managing everything without my best friend helping me to make decisions,” Edith Royal told the Joint Committee to Study Alzheimer’s Disease. “It is so rewarding that at this time in our lives after so many years of living for the teams that Darrell coached and the game he played, it’s now members of those teams and our football family that return from all over this country almost daily to shower Darrell with love.”

She used the hearing to launch the Darrell K. Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease, which will fund collaborative research in Texas, and to promote sharing of new discoveries. She said that while Texas ranks third in the nation for the disease, most of the research takes place on the east and west coasts.

“The role of the caregiver is incredibly important, they are heroes in this world,” Armstrong said. “Often we focus on the patient, but it’s the people who are around, it’s that team that the coach knew so well.”

Sen. Jane Nelson, the chair of the committee, welcomed the creation of the private fund.

“We will certainly partner with you at the state,” Nelson said.

David Leakey, commissioner of the Department of State Health Services, said the number of Alzheimer’s cases in Texas is expected to continue to rise with the aging population and, so far, there has been little progress in fighting it.

“In 2010, we have 340,000 Texans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease,” Leakey said. “A little over 1 percent of those age 65 to 74 (have the disease), about 20 of those age 75 to 84 and over half of those individuals age 85 or more.”

Leakey said that in addition to the human cost, the disease has an economic impact on the state, with hospitalization costs totaling $65 million in 2010.

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