SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA) — More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, by the year 2050, that number is expected to rise to nearly 14 million.
There’s no cure, but research continues, and one local group is having fun raising money for it.
“We come together every Sunday, sometimes twice a week,” says Brunette Team Captain Samantha Patton.
It’s the blondes vs. the brunettes, and the competition is about to get fierce.
Blonde Team Co-captain Alexandra McCoy adds, “We have 13 routes on our route tree. We have over 20 plays, several reverse plays. It’s intense.”
In the annual RivALZ flag football game, they’re tackling Alzheimer’s Disease.
“It began as just small things, but as it progresses it tends to take over your body and mind,” Patton said.
Out on the field, Patton is playing for her grandfather.
“He was one of my best friends and I wanted to do something in his memory,” she said.
He suffered from Alzheimer’s for ten years before he passed.
McCoy plays for her children’s grandmother, who was diagnosed with a form of dementia.
“It really started hitting home. I stepped up,” McCoy said.
Competition aside, these two teams share one common goal — to inspire awareness, action and fundraising.
“Collaboratively we’re hoping to raise over $100,000 this year which is a huge step from last year’s $60,000,” McCoy said.
Kirsten Dickins is the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association in Arkansas. She says here in the Natural State, there are 60,000 people living with the disease, and more than 178,000 caregivers.
“Alzheimer’s presents unique difficulties. Your communication is not going to be as easy. You might have loved ones that wander or become violent,” Dickins said.
That’s why the Alzheimer’s Association provides a 24/7 helpline, education programs, and support groups for caregivers. Just a few of the ways money raised from this game will continue to make a difference in our area.
“I want to find out why we can put someone on the moon, but we can’t fix these people’s brains for them,” Blonde team player Courtney Orr said.
On Saturday, May 4, the blondes will play the brunettes in the RivALZ game at Shiloh Christian’s Champions Stadium in Springdale.
Tickets are $10 dollars a piece or you can pay $15 for a ticket to the game and the after party.