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Growing up, I was an avid women’s basketball fan. Some (my mother) might actually have classified me as a “super fan.” But among all of the posters of Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes, Pat Summitt was the greatest in my book.

Pat Summitt was the legendary coach of the University of Tennessee lady volunteers. She was a pioneer of women’s basketball, having earned a silver medal with the 1976 women’s Olympic basketball team (The first women’s basketball team to ever compete in a Summer Olympics), and the winningest female basketball coach in NCAA history.

Known in basketball circles as “the coach of all coaches”, Summitt was known for her outgoing personality and her creative plays.

I was among thousands who were devastated when she announced her retirement due to early onset Alzheimer’s in 2011. For the rest of that season, Coach Summitt sat on the bench, which was a rare sight. It was clear to viewers that she had been shaken by this disease.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease affects forty-seven million people worldwide; including more than five million people in the United States. Women make up two-thirds of all Alzheimer’s patients. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include: memory loss that disrupts daily life, challenges in planning, and difficulty completing routine daily tasks.

For more information regarding Alzheimer’s disease or to get help for a loved one, please contact the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Association or Milwaukee Health Services. Together, we can help loved ones fight this disease.

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