How we beat the most feared disease in America…and how we can do it again.

Jeff Dehner of the Alzheimer’s Association joined us with an informative presentation on this devastating disease and the hopes for the future.

Jeffs father was a polio survivor so he sees a lot of hope in the future if treatment and cure for Alzheimers can be approached the same way Polio was.

The first outbreak of polio in the US was in 1916 and the disease rose rapidly becoming the most feared as better sanitation allowed the decrease of illnesses such as Cholera and Typhus. These diseases had allowed children to grow stronger in natural antibodies but now they were more vulnerable allowing Polio to take hold easier and was often fatal or led to paralysis

In 1921 FDR contracted Polio after a swim and in 1938 he founded the National Foundation for Infantile paralysis which would later be renamed the March of Dimes.

In 1950 a new grass roots campaign arose in the March of Dimes called the Mothers March. Women stopped door to door in neighborhoods collecting donations.

These funds led to the research that resulted in the first polio injectable vaccine from Dr. Salk followed by the oral type from Dr. Sabin, which was first used in Cincinnati. By disrupting the life cycle of the polio virus the world is close to eradicating it from the face of the earth.

Alzheimers is todays polio. As diseases like cancer, HIV and heart disease decrease Alzheimers is rising at an alarming rate, as polio once did.

Between 2000 and 2017 Alzheimer is up 145%, the same trajectory as polio was on. We need to do something about it now as 6 million are affected today and projected to be 14 million by mid century. Right now there is no cure and a few treatments which do not stop progression. The root cause is still unknown.

With the same focus that was given to the polio crisis it is felt that this disease can be beaten, starting with grass roots fundraising. Perhaps Rotary can turn its attention to this disease and gain be a part of that cure.

Several walks are organized in the community and Jeff invites us to join as Rotarians in these events, perhaps creating a team at

For more information on Alzheimers got to or visit the new satellite office at 5180 Cedar Village Drive in Mason.

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