More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's, a disease that attacks the brain. It is the most common form of dementia.
Wednesday people will be honoring those with Alzheimer's, their care givers and those who have lost their battle with the disease.
Emma Dell Amason was born in 1910 in rural Georgia. She was one of 12 children and the only one to go to college.
She is Rebecca Williams' grandmama.
"She just was someone who I always looked up to. She was one of those who would tell you follow your dreams, follow your heart, because she did," Williams said.
After Rebecca's grandfather died, the family realized that Emma Dell was confused and she showed signs of memory loss. This enterprising woman went to assisted living, diagnosed with dementia of the Alzheimer's type.
"At the end, she didn't know who we were," Rebecca said. "It's hard for a family to watch their loved one change that dramatically."
She passed away on Christmas Day 17 years ago.
This year her granddaughter joined the Alzheimer's Association as Community Outreach Manager.
"I am so blessed to be working for them here in Knoxville here in East Tennessee and to be able to help families like my own at that time to kind of guide them through the process, to help people when they have questions," Williams said.
In Emma Dell's honor, Rebecca will join people across the world on June 21 to participate in an Alzheimer's event called The Longest Day.
"The Longest Day happens on the summer solstice which is the longest day of the year," she said. "For someone with Alzheimer's disease and also for those caregivers, every day can feel like the longest day."
Rebecca plans to spend the longest day baking homemade cookies for her dogs, Hank and Willie.
That's an example of how people participate in The Longest Day. Pick something you love to do, and then raise money for the Alzheimer's Association either as a team or an individual. Get creative, host a read-a-thon, play guitar for tips, plan a kickball tournament.
Rebecca's team is called "Emma Dell's Angels." She's selling a package of 10 dog cookies for $5 in honor and memory of her grandmama.
Her donation will help fight Alzheimer's.
"We really want to bring awareness to that, to honor our loved ones, those that are still living and those that have passed, and to also really honor caregivers because I think sometime they are forgotten," she said.
Emma Dell Amason, never forgotten.
Anyone can donate by texting the word SOLSTICE to 51555.
All the money raised through the Longest Day goes to help fund the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer's Association. The organization provides care and support to all those facing the disease through care consultations with families, facilitated support groups, community education, and even a 24-Hour, Toll Free Helpline (800-272-3900). All services are free.
Dog Cookie Recipe
One cup whole wheat flour
One cup of milk
One tablespoon of baking powder
One cup of all natural peanut butter
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
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