A Tribute to Pat Summitt
For her inspiration to females, her role as a leader and champion, her bravery in the face of dementia and her legacy that continues to raise Alzheimer Awareness.
The legendary University of Tennessee Woman’s Basketball Coach Pat Summitt lost her battle to Alzheimers June 28, 2016 at age 64. At the young age of 59 Summitt was diagnosed with early onset dementia-Alzheimers type.
Early onset Alzheimers affects people younger than 65 years of age and some as young as 40, according to the Alzheimers Association. The Center for Disease Control states that Alzheimers disease is the 6th most common cause of death in the United States. Out of the top ten causes of death, Alzheimers is the only disease that cannot be prevented, treated or even slowed down.
Summitt approaches her Alzheimers with the same tact she used on the court
Shortly after being diagnosed in 2011, Summitt started the Pat Summitt Foundation in efforts to advance research for prevention and a cure as well as to educate the public of the impacts of the disease and urgent need for a cure. In 2015 The Pat Summitt Foundation formed a partnership with the University of Tennessee Medical Center and announced one of Summitt’s many legacies: The Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic. The announcement kicked off a five-year, $2.5 million campaign for the foundation, which previously made $500,000 in grants to the medical center and $300,000 in grants to other local and national Alzheimer’s organizations
Summitt handled her battle with Alzheimer’s with grace and courage, leaving behind what is beginning to resemble increased awareness of this disease and hopefully one day leading toward a cure.
Achievements of the woman who left behind a legacy
- Summitt is recognized as the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history
- Recorded 1,098 career victories (the most in Division 1 college basketball history for a men’s or women’s coach before retiring in 2012).
- Named the NCAA Coach of the Year 7 times
- Became an Olympic gold medalist in 1984 while coaching the U.S. team to their first gold medal
- She’s the reason the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is in Knoxville.
- In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Summitt the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
- Also in 2012, Summitt was recognized by ESPY as its Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner.
In furtherance of Summitt’s mission to increase public awareness and in honor of her memory, here is some information on the devastating disease:
The Alzheimer’s Association has 10 early signs and symptoms of the disease:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or at leisure
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
If you or someone you know is experiencing memory issues, please be advised to contact a physician for a cognitive test, a neurological exam or brain imaging.