Shining light, raising awareness, and raising funds; Alzheimer’s Association holds annual in Joplin this Saturday

FRED FLETCHER-FIERRO (HOST) : It’s Morning Edition on KRPS; I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. The condition that we know as Alzheimer’s Disease dates back to Greek and Roman philosophers writing about it as far back as 600 BC. It wasn’t until 1901 when German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer became the first person to identify the disease that would be named after him.

Shrihari Nagarajan, a Senior at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School speaking about the Walk To End Alzheimer’s

Now 120 years later doctors and scientists continue to work to understand Alzheimer’s, how it affects people, and how to cure a disease that afflicts 30 million people worldwide. This Saturday at Joplin’s Mercy Park the Greater Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association will host their annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I recently spoke with Shrihari Nagarajan, a Senior at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School in Joplin, Shrihari is on the walks planning committee.

Shrihari Nagarajan

SHRIHARI NAGARAJAN : So there are six million Americans today who face Alzheimer’s and one-third of seniors die with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. So we do have a crisis on our hands. And to kind of prevent this crisis the Alzheimer Association started an initiative where they’re supporting Alzheimer’s research, they’re trying to get more people involved with it, and they are also raising funds to increase Alzheimer’s awareness and advocacy. And as part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s one of their initiatives is the Walk To End Alzheimer’s. And in 600 communities around the world, this walk is held annually. One of the walks is actually in the Joplin area.

FRED : The walk will take place this Saturday at Joplin’s Mercy Park. Same-day registration starts at 8:15. For this walk alone there are over 24 teams and 100 participants. Shrihari says that he hopes to attend a university next year majoring in Neuroscience. He has a great passion for learning about the brain and the nervous system and wants to build a career helping people. Learning about the Joplin chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association was a step towards just that.

SHRIHARI : So looking for a way to combine these passions of mine I stumbled across the Joplin area Walk To End Alzheimer’s. And I thought maybe I could get involved with this organization so around mid-December of last year I contacted the walks Director, Mr. Sam Dietrich. And he said that he’d be happy to have me on the Joplin area walk to end the Alzheimer’s planning committee.

FRED : While Alzheimer’s was first identified over 100 years ago, over the past two decades the number of deaths due to the disease has increased over 145%. ⅔ of those individuals are women. More recently, during the ongoing pandemic, Alzheimer’s patients are 16% more likely to die from COVID-19 than the general public. Shrihari says that while the effects of Alzheimer’s are experienced in the later stages of life, he’s working to get the younger generation involved and educated.

SHRIHARI : I’m part of the all-student team, Students for Change. And in addition to collecting funds and donating myself, I’m trying to get youth involved within the Alzheimer’s Association, within the Joplin area walk to end Alzheimer’s. I believe it is important for this generation to get involved especially since, as we envision a world where there is no Alzheimer’s or other dementia, it is critical for us to know about what is in our future and also support those family members or those other individuals who they know, who face this disease.

FRED : Shrihari Nagarajan, a Senior at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School in Joplin speaking about the Walk To End Alzheimer’s taking place this Saturday at Mercy Park in Joplin. Same-day registration started at 8:15 Saturday morning. You can hear this interview again, or for more information about the walk and how you can get involved, visit KRPSnews.com For 89 9 KRPS, I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro

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