MARQUETTE — Earlier this week ABC Ten’s Sarah Mac experienced a Virtual Dementia Tour, where she was able to experience a simulation of what it’s like to have the disease. Today she met with a local NMU student whose family combats Alzheimer’s everyday and what he is doing to educate others about it.

NMU student Tyler Leightner seems like an average college senior – he goes to school, he goes to work, he has his hobbies – but most people wouldn’t guess that he is at risk for Alzheimer’s.

Leightner says, “My mom’s 48, and has early onset Alzheimer’s, and she was diagnosed at 35. I’ve had a grandfather, two aunts, an uncle and a grandmother that have had Alzheimer’s. my grandfather had later onset, and the rest of my family had early onset. It’s genetic, I have a 50/50 shot of getting it.”

Leightner is an Ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association and has even gotten to advocate on behalf of the organization on Capitol Hill. Locally he speaks to students, doctors and other groups, promoting awareness and events like Saturday’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Committee Chair for the walk Ruth Almen says that while the fundraising part is really important, it is also really important to have the community come out and support each other.

“A couple of years ago we had a woman who came from one of our live–wise classes,” Almen added, “and she came to the gym and there were hundreds of people in their and she looked at me and she said, ‘I thought there’d be, like 30 people here, I can’t believe this many people care about me.’ So that’s the other important reason to come out, is because you show your support just by showing up, and you make sure people have services by making a big donation or a little donation, or whatever you can do.”

Proceeds from this walk will go towards Alzheimer’s research, which is desperately needed in the dementia community – considering there is no cure for it’s related diseases, there are only medications out there that can slow it’s progression.

For those who can’t make the walk, you could still donate to the cause towards this year’s goal.

For more information about the 2015 Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Marquette County click here.


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