For me—and likely for you—the fight against Alzheimer’s disease is personal.
My father, Lou Holland Sr., was diagnosed with mixed dementia (Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia) in 2007 and died in 2016. After Pop passed, it was also determined that he had Lewy body dementia. In addition, Pop’s sister, mother and grandmother died with Alzheimer’s. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the toll Alzheimer’s has taken on our family, as well as the impact it has on the millions of people affected by this devastating disease.
It seems odd in hindsight, but Pop’s diagnosis came as a shock to all of us. We thought any issues he was having was due to the stress of being in the investment business. But then reality set in: My mentor—one of my closest confidantes, a guy I thought was stronger than life—was handed a death sentence. This tough, vibrant man who was a whiz with financial complexities—balance sheets, stock reports, economic forecasts—eventually could barely remember his name.
I have three kids. It may be too late for me if I develop Alzheimer’s, but it’s not too late to fight on their behalf. I’m not going down without battling, and I’m not going to wait for somebody else to do something.
Like I said, it’s personal.
I’m proud to be the chair of the 2018 Alzheimer’s Association AIM Advocacy Forum. The Forum—which this year begins on Father’s Day, June 17, and culminates with Hill Day on June 19—is where the rubber meets the road. Due in large part to our advocates and their annual presence in Washington, D.C., we’ve seen great increases in federal Alzheimer’s research funding at the National Institutes of Health and critical advances made in care and support. But we can’t take our successes for granted—we need to keep the pressure on.
Alzheimer’s doesn’t discriminate against ethnicities or cultures. It doesn’t single out political parties. It affects everyone. We need to once again charge Capitol Hill with passion and gusto and challenge our lawmakers to—if you’ll pardon the expression—get off their butts and not pay lip service to supporting the cause but to make it a priority.
I played football at the University of Wisconsin. I learned that when you have a lead over your opponent in a game, you don’t assume you’re going to win. You keep going. You’ll lose if you let up when the momentum is on your side. We can’t let that happen. Come to the 2018 AIM Advocacy Forum and be part of the team that’s making a difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
Lou Holland Jr.
2018 Alzheimer’s Association AIM Advocacy Forum Chair