Every 70 seconds, someone gets this disease. It’s a disease that can make people forget the simplest things in an instant. The disease is the often referred to, but little is known about Alzheimer’s disease. There has yet to be a cure discovered but the impact of the disease is felt greatly on many families, especially since Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death.
After seeing how the disease affected his family, Mark Zimmer decided to do something to raise awareness. Zimmer is climbing the 50 highest peaks in all 50 states of the U.S.
“I’m hoping to catch the attention of the younger generation,” said the 23 year old. “I want to catch their attention to do climbs or get them to volunteer at some nursing home for people with Alzheimer’s disease.”
Zimmer’s inspiration comes from close to home. Zimmer’s grandfather currently suffers from Alzheimer’s, a condition that he started having when Zimmer was 10. Since then, Zimmer has coped with the disease, but it wasn’t an easy task.
“It’s hard,” he explained. “It’s a slow process. It’s weird.”
Zimmer said that they first caught wind of the disease when his grandfather did things out of the ordinary, such as packing for a trip that was not planned or throwing garbage in the truck and driving around.
“He started doing things that didn’t make sense,” Zimmer explained. “He didn’t really know what he was doing. You try to take it lightly. You don’t want to scold them and make a big deal out of it.”
Although Zimmer has seen his grandfather suffer since he was young, he said it’s been harder for his grandmother.
“She has to take care of him,” he said. “It’s hard to see someone you love go down the hill. It’s not sudden where you can just take it and move on. It’s drawn out.”
Zimmer is now on his journey to climb all 50 peaks. He has just started his journey, conquering five peaks already, including Louisiana’s Mount Driskill, located in Bryceland.
Carrying a flag with him as he makes he treks, Zimmer has sponsors supporting most of his expenses. However, getting sponsors was not an easy task.
“The economy was just starting to go down, and a lot of companies cut their sponsorship budgets,” he said. After getting the runaround, he finally started talking to the right people, acquiring 14 sponsors.
Zimmer said that if people to donate to the cause, they can do so at www.summitupusa.com. Zimmer said each person who donates will get access to tracking his journeys and he’ll e-mail photos of every peak he conquers.
All the money Zimmer raises will go to the Alzheimer’s Association to help find a cure. Even though there have been numerous breakthroughs, scientists have not been able to crack the code for the cure of Alzheimer’s.
However, Zimmer is confident. He believes that a cure will be discovered soon.
“Hopefully in five to ten years, the stem cell research and nanotechnology will find a cure,” he said.