Brighton resident fights for Alzheimer’s cure

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Little did Brighton resident Lauren Kovach know the pact she made with her mother in the hospital 16 years ago to care for her grandmother would turn into a passion for curing Alzheimer’s.

“We were like most people, we didn’t know a lot about it, especially that long ago.” Kovach said. “It’s become such a huge conversation to have now. Everything I do revolves around the cause.”

On Oct. 10. 2010, Kovach completed her first Alzheimer’s walk, known as Memory Walk, in Ann Arbor. The following year she received an email stating the cause was rebranding to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and was on its way to Brighton. Kovach signed up as co-chair for Brighton’s walk, and has held the position for the last eight years it has been in Brighton.

Brighton’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the largest fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association, varies between September and October. Last September, Kovach became top-walker at the Brighton walk in memory of her grandma, who passed away that June. This year, the walk has been rerouted on Main Street and will take place on Sept. 29. The goal this year is to welcome 1,000 walkers and raise $160,000, after previous years of supporting 300 to 800 walkers while raising $35,000 to $130,000.

Additionally, on Aug. 10 the Gatsby Gala fundraiser will be held at Oak Pointe Country Club. Guests can expect to dress up, enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, a cigar bar, a DJ, and dancing. The Guest of Honor will be former Lions quarterback and Fenton resident Eric Hipple.

“My mom has been a Lions ticket holder for 39 years.” Kovach said. “I went to a Lions season ticket holder summit. They always have these Lions legends and Eric Hipple was one of them. Everywhere I go, we have these little purple signs that say #endalz. (When he saw) my sign  we started talking and he said he had always wanted to do the walk.”

Besides hosting fundraisers, Kovach spent Father’s Day weekend advocating for a cure in Washington, D.C., for the National Alzheimer’s Advocacy Forum. She joined 1,200 advocates from all 50 states, participating in celebratory dinners, treating sessions, and more. All the activities led up to their last day, where a sea of purple ‘stormed capitol hill’.

All advocates met with their representatives, in Kovach’s case U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. Every advocate asked the same question: for a $425 million dollar increase in federal funding for the NIH for Alzheimer’s research and for help with the BOLD Alzheimer’s Act. Fortunately, the representatives had already co-signed the bill Kovach was asking for and had voted in favor of the increase.

“It’s as simple as doing district drop by to their offices; we tweet at them, we email, we try to set up meetings with them,” Kovach said. “Its nothing more than sharing your story. A lot of these are not just politicians, but people in general who have not had experience with the disease. That’s why we’re there.”

To find a walk near you, visit www.alz.org/walk and for more information on the Gatsby Gala, visit www.brightongatsbygala.com .

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