147,600: Why They Can’t Wait

In June, a prime time audience tuned in to the touching story of country music icon Glen Campbell’s farewell tour in the documentary film, “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.” The story struck a chord with Americans, and with good reason: just a few years ago, Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

He’s not alone. In fact, every 67 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease; at that rate nearly 147,600 people in the United States alone developed the disease since “I’ll Be Me” first aired on that early summer Sunday evening.

We cannot ignore the enormity of that number, or the progress in the fight against the disease we’ve seen since June. For example, in July more than 4,500 researchers from over 65 countries met at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference to share findings and get one step closer to a breakthrough.

September saw the launch of WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s #WeWontWait campaign, which sheds light on the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease among women and the extraordinarily high percentage of unpaid, female caregivers. Just this past weekend, celebrities came together at Alzheimer’s disease activist and actor Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity event, a fundraiser to help shore up resources for research.

Next month, organizations, researchers and individuals alike will observe National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and National Family Caregivers Month. To mark the month, CNN Films will re-air “I’ll Be Me” on Saturday, November 7, at 8 pm EDT/7 pm CDT.

If you haven’t had a chance to see this poignant peek into the life of someone with Alzheimer’s disease, as well the lives of the caregivers who surround them, I encourage you to take the time to watch “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” when it re-airs. That Campbell and his family felt comfortable sharing this intimate portrait with the world is quite remarkable. Their bravery shines through, and the film as a whole represents an important step forward in the process of raising the general public’s awareness of the reality of Alzheimer’s disease.

Between the work of advocates, filmmakers and researchers we’ve come a long way in the fight against the disease. But more work remains, and time remains a critical component - 147,600 people and counting eagerly anticipate real progress.