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A decade later

A letter from our president, Sherry Sharp

June 2024 marked a decade since Alzheimer’s disease took the life of my husband and best friend from the age of sixteen. Richard lost his battle with this rare form of Alzheimer’s disease, Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA) on June 24, 2014.

In October 2010, Richard and I were enjoying the early years of being grandparents to our four beautiful grandchildren; Ella, Beck, Bowen, and Camden. As we prepared to leave for Charlottesville from our home in Richmond, Virginia to meet with the neurologist at the University of Virginia medical department, the one-hour drive felt like an eternity. Although we had made the trip to UVA many times before, this time was different. This trip we anticipated receiving the results from tests taken the week before to help diagnose troubling symptoms experienced by Richard for some time.

At the time, little was known about PCA, it’s symptoms or relationship with the more common form of Alzheimer’s disease. What we did know, is that our family, friends, and colleagues wanted to fight and help find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. In 2015, we launched the Rick Sharp Alzheimer’s Foundation (RSAF) and I went on the board of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (CAF). Since that time, with your help, we have raised over $10M and participated in funding over 30 high-risk, high-reward research projects to help find effective therapies and ultimately a cure!

PCA that “rare form” of Alzheimer’s disease that my Richard had, starts with different symptoms than most cases. People with PCA experience early difficulties related to vision, like spatial orientation and perception, but their eyesight is not the issue. The plaque and tangle pathologies that are typical of Alzheimer’s disease are building up first in the back parts of the brain that process vision, instead of starting in brain areas that support memory. Research made it possible to discover this important connection between PCA and Alzheimer’s disease.

In Rick’s memory, we want to raise $230,000 to fund the first of a 2-year scientific project that continues to support the research being done to understand the connection between typical Alzheimer’s and PCA. For example, scientists are asking why Alzheimer’s pathology appears in memory centers in the brains of most patients but in others, like in PCA, it is their visual brain areas that are most vulnerable. As new discoveries are being made everyday with more trials and new drugs on the horizon, understanding more about how PCA compares to typical cases will benefit people living with all forms of Alzheimer’s.

Richard did not get a chance to watch his amazing grandchildren grow up; he was robbed of that time, and so were those of us who loved him. While the clock cannot be turned back, I will never give up fighting for a cure!

Every donation brings us one step closer to a future Rick envisioned.

Please consider making a donation today in Rick’s memory. Your generosity will not only honor his legacy but also ensure that we continue the race to a cure!

 

With love and gratitude,

Sherry Sharp
President and Director