Alzheimer's Foundation Honors Former President - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/14/04

Alzheimer's Foundation Honors Former President

The Great Communicator spent the last decade of his life battling Alzheimer's disease, a disease he once said would lead him into the sunset of his life.

So Friday night, in honor of his life, the "Alzheimer's Foundation of the South" held a candlelight vigil in memory of the 40th president of the United States. They wanted to honor his life, as well as bring awareness to the disease that ultimately took his life.

Eight candles were lit to not only represent former President Reagan's years of leadership, but the flames represent hope, a hope that one day a cure will be found for such a debilitating disease.

Nearly 50 people turned out to St. Thomas Catholic Church in Long Beach to pay final respects to President Reagan.

"When he became president, I had confidence that he would do well. And there were leadership characteristics that he possessed," said supporter Al LeFebvre.

However, the small crowd also extended their sympathies to the Reagan family as well as the families of the four and a half million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer's disease.

"What it's doing is increasing awareness. Of course we're doing it to honor former president Reagan, and it's also keeping up his legacy of the awareness.As we think about the president now, please let's also remember all the others who are suffering with this and reach out to our neighbors or friends. Many people are reluctant to talk about the disease," said Alzheimer's Foundation of the South executive director Rosemary Hudgins.

Hudgins says a 300 % increase of Alzheimer victims are expected by the year 2050.

But until a cure is found, all we can do is pray and support Alzheimer victims and their families, as the nation demonstrated with the Reagan family.

"Lend a helping hand if you can. Sometimes all someone needs is somebody to talk to, to listen," said Hudgins.

People who attended Friday night's service had the opportunity to sign a sympathy book which will be sent to the Reagan family.

If you would like any information regarding Alzheimer's disease, contact the Alzheimer's Foundation of the South at 867-6251.

By Karla Redditte

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