May is a special month for me: Everest and Mother’s Day. The connection is significant.
I summited Everest in May and Mother’s Day, well, it is Mother's Day.
Ida Arnette, my mom, was the memory keeper for her extended family. With my mom’s eight brothers and sisters, there was a lot to track.
Mom did it all while raising two sons, working full time and still finding time to cook amazing holiday dinners and an out-of-this world pecan pie.
So the day my mom looked up from her steaming coffee cup and said with a look I will never forget, “Now, who are you again?” was a day, a moment, I will never forget.
Alzheimer’s took my mom’s life and changed mine forever.
As I learned about the disease, I became frustrated, angry and eventually motivated to do something about it -- if not for my mom, then for future generations.
I pledged to literally and figuratively scream from the mountain tops that Alzheimer’s is a disease that must be stopped, that caregivers must receive more support, and that the general public must gain a deeper understanding of the impact of Alzheimer's.
With that mission, I went on to accomplish something few people have even attempted: I climbed the highest peak on each of the 7 continents in under a year in an effort to raise awareness about this terrible disease.
Almost two years ago this month, in pursuit of that goal, I sent my message of hope, need and urgency from the summit of Mt. Everest.
My voice cracked as I dedicated that summit to my mom, my two aunts and the millions of individuals with Alzheimer's and their caregivers around the world. I reached 30 million people with my campaign and raised significant funds for research.
But it is not enough.
Today, we are making progress with key understandings of the disease brought about through research. Even though the path is rough, the private sector is not giving up.
But it is not enough.
It will take an unprecedented partnership between private and public resources to slow Alzheimer's and to find a cure. It will take even more work to solve the growing crisis facing caregivers.
Please join me in sending a message to our leaders through USAgainstAlzheimer’s. Let’s tell them that now is the time to act, and that they must take the steps needed to fund Alzheimer’s research at the levels laid out in President Obama’s budget, to fulfill the promise of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.