Pat Summitt is most commonly known as a legendary basketball leader—winning more games than any other coach in the history of college basketball—but she was also a leader in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Shortly after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2011 at the age of 59, Summitt and her son Tyler founded the Pat Summit Foundation. Their goal was to “help find a cure for Alzheimer’s so that one day no family has to hear that a loved one has been diagnosed with [the] disease.”
The foundation awards grants to organizations that conduct research to treat, prevent, and ultimately cure AD, and/or provides education and awareness of the disease, it’s onset, and treatment, or services to support patients, their families and caregivers.
Today, on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, after five years of fighting Alzheimer’s disease head-on, Pat Summitt has passed away.
“The loss of Pat Summit to dementia of the Alzheimer type reminds us that younger individuals at the peak of their careers, and not just older retirees, are vulnerable to succumb to Alzheimer type dementia, which likely began to damage her brain 10 or more years before she became symptomatic,” said John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, director of Penn’s Institute on Aging.
“Despite stepping down as Tennessee’s legendary basketball coach in 2012, a year after announcing her diagnosis, she continued to be engaged with her team which illustrates that patients living with dementia can continue to lead a meaningful and active life.”
To learn more about early-onset dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Association.
To learn more about Alzheimer’s research and care here at Penn, visit:
- Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research
- Penn’s Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center
- Penn Memory Center