Aug 18, 2010

Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride(SM) Kicks Into High Gear at Halfway Point

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

This summer, more than 55 researchers participating in the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride(SM) are cycling relay-style across the country, collecting petition signatures asking Congress to make Alzheimer's disease a national priority.

The public response to the petition has been so overwhelming that as the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Riders hit the halfway point in their 67-day route from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. on August 18, they are already more than 80% of the way to their goal of 50,000 signatures.

Based on the support of the American public to date, the Alzheimer's Association and researchers are doubling that goal to 100,000 signatures to present to Congress on World Alzheimer's Day (September 21).

As Americans continue to live longer, Alzheimer's is quickly becoming the public health crisis of the 21st century. Today, an estimated 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's and as many 16 million will have it by 2050. This year, the total annual costs of care for people with Alzheimer's will be $172 billion and this will rise to more than $1 trillion by the mid-century, with Medicare costs soaring more than 600 percent and Medicaid costs increasing 400 percent. As the numbers suggest, the nation simply cannot afford an Alzheimer epidemic. Yet for every $25,000 the federal government spends on care for people living with Alzheimer's disease, it only spends $100 on Alzheimer's research.

The researchers cycling in the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride have made stopping Alzheimer's disease their life's work, but they can't do it alone. From being cheered down Hollywood Boulevard while cycling alongside the Walk of Fame to being sent off one morning by school children in New Mexico, the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride is earning the attention and support of Americans of all ages nationwide.

"The Alzheimer's Association and Alzheimer's Breakthrough Riders are inspired by the outpouring of support," says Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association and cyclist in the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride. "It is clear from the tens of thousands of Americans lending their signatures to the petition that we, as a nation, think Alzheimer's disease is a national health crisis. The federal government must correct the chronic underinvestment in Alzheimer research and develop a strategic national plan to prevent additional suffering and financial devastation."

The Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride was originally conceived by Alzheimer's disease researcher Bruce Lamb, Ph.D.. During a casual bike ride last summer, Dr. Lamb pondered the difficulties in getting adequate federal funding for Alzheimer research and became convinced that researchers needed to do even more to fight the disease. He shared the idea of a cross-country bike ride to build support for Alzheimer's with the Alzheimer's Association, and now researchers across the country are out on the open road. More than 55 riders are cycling approximately 4,500 miles. The Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride has already visited California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Today's stop in Oklahoma City marks the halfway point as the researchers prepare to cross Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania before ending in the nation's capital on World Alzheimer's Day (September 21).

"The personal stories we have heard along the route of the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride are inspiring us to ride harder and faster towards Washington, D.C. to demand action from Congress," says Dr. Lamb, Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride Chair and cyclist, Associate Staff Scientist in the Department of Neurosciences at the Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic and Associate Professor in the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and the Departments of Neurosciences and Genetics at Case Western Reserve University. "In addition to garnering signatures to deliver to Congress, we are also riding for the individuals, families and communities affected by Alzheimer's. We will not stop until we have action from the federal government and a cure for the disease."

According to the Alzheimer's Association 2010 Alzheimer's Disease Facts & Figures:
Alzheimer's disease is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

From 2000 to 2006, deaths from Alzheimer's disease increased by 46.1 percent. Deaths from heart disease decreased by 11.1 percent, breast cancer deaths decreased by 2.6 percent, prostate cancer deaths decreased by 8.7 percent, stroke deaths decreased by 18.2 percent and HIV/AIDS deaths decreased by 16.3 percent.

In 2009, nearly 11 million American family members and friends provided care for a person with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia. These caregivers provided 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $144 billion – more than the federal government spends on Medicare and Medicaid combined for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias.

Average per person Medicaid payments were 9 times higher; Medicare payments were 3 times higher, and private insurance payments were 26 percent higher for those with Alzheimer's and other dementias compared to those without these conditions.

As the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Riders cycle toward Capitol Hill, Americans are invited to get involved by signing the online petition to make Alzheimer's disease a national priority or coming out to one of the signing events along the route. To find an event in your area, follow the riders on the road and sign the online petition, visit

The Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's. For more information, visit

SOURCE Alzheimer's Association

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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,690 articles with more than 70,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.


Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room