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ABC 17’s Meghan Drakas shares personal impact of Alzheimer’s disease

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

This week at ABC 17 News, the news team has been covering your stories in the community and how Alzheimer's has impacted a huge group of residents in Mid-Missouri.

The Alzheimer's Association states around 120,000 Missourians are currently suffering from Alzheimer's. According to the U.S. Census, that's around the same number of people living in Columbia.

My Personal Story

My grandmother, Barbara Early, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2013. Her diagnosis impacted not only her but every single member of my family. An impact millions of people have also felt all over the country with their family members.

ABC 17's Meghan Drakas with her Grandfather & Grandmother (2016)

It was the first time I experienced my grandmother forgetting certain things she would normally remember. She also got to a point where she needed help with everyday tasks such as getting dressed or brushing her hair.

As I grew older, I came to appreciate the small moments in life when she would recognize the lyrics of a song and sing along or remember my name.

Alzheimer's took away a part of my grandmother while she was still physically in front of me, which was one of the most frustrating things of all. Especially because Alzheimer's doesn't have a definitive cure.

In 2016, I joined the Sigma Kappa Sorority while I was a freshman at Penn State University. That's where I started my involvement with the Alzheimer's Association.

Walk to End Alzheimer's at State College, PA (2017)

All throughout my college years, I helped to spread awareness for the disease and raised thousands of dollars for the Alzheimer's Association in honor of my grandmother.

Then, a few weeks after I moved to Columbia to start my position at ABC 17 News in January of 2021, my grandmother lost her battle with Alzheimer's.

But while she lost her battle, I decided to continue her fight through my efforts with the Columbia chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

Last year, I served as the logistics chair for the Columbia committee for the Walk to End Alzheimer's, and this year, I volunteered as the Sigma Kappa engagement chair to help the Sigma Kappa chapter at the University of Missouri raise funds for the walk.

In total, the Sigma Kappa chapter at MU raised over $61,000 for the Columbia Walk to End Alzheimer's.

ABC 17 Family Alzheimer's Impact

But, I'm not the only one at ABC 17 News who's been personally impacted by this degenerative disease.

Billie Sue Welch

ABC 17 News family members Billie Sue Welch and John Elkins both lost their battles with Alzheimer's.

John Elkins

How You Can Help in the Fight Against Alzheimer's

The ABC 17 News team is joining in the fight against Alzheimer's. On Sunday, ABC 17 News will be walking to support the cause at the Jefferson City Walk to End Alzheimer's as the event's official media sponsor.

Click here to sign-up to walk or donate to the Jefferson City Walk to End Alzheimer's.

Article Topic Follows: Living with Alzheimer's
Author Profile Photo

Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.

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