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November 14, 2017 05:06 PM

Bill Gates's Pledge To Fight Alzheimer's Disease Gives Local Woman Hope

A KELOLAND woman probably will not ever meet Bill Gates, but the billionaire's pledge to fight Alzheimer's disease is bringing them closer together. 

Gates is committing a total of $100 million for research and to find a cure for Alzheimer's and Dementia. It is a major financial investment, but the gesture itself may be worth even more for the families affected by the disease. 

The first thing you'll notice about Carla Thielbar is her purple hair. 

"People actually approach me and ask me about it," Thielbar said. 

She sports the official color for Alzheimer's Awareness for a good reason: her mom, Dianne. 

"We started seeing signs during my last year of college," Thielbar said. 

For the last decade, the rapidly progressing disease has taken everything from Dianne and her family. 

"You're always losing her. You're losing some part of her," Thielbar said. "We haven't even heard her talk in about five years."

Gates is giving Thielbar hope. Leslie Morrow, State Exective Director for the Alzheimer's Association, says the money will fund more clinical trials and eventually help tackle rising health care costs associated with the disease. 

"The clock is ticking. It's ticking at both the financial standpoint and with a personal standpoint, an emotional standpoint and unless we can figure this out sooner than later, we're going to be in trouble," Morrow said. 

More than 5 million Americans live with the Alzheimer's Disease, at a cost of $259 billion a year. Without any treatment, those numbers are projected to explode to 16 million Americans with the disease, at a cost of over $1 trillion a year, by 2050.

In addition to the money, Gates's name recognition alone could have an important ripple effect. 

"A lot of people have their eye on Mr. Gates and what he invests in and I think this brings validity to the cause.  Although there's five million people who would say this needs no validity whatsoever because they're living with it every day," Morrow said. 

"To think my future children and my little nieces and nephews will watch this breakthrough and it's based on what we did is, it's amazing," Thielbar said. 

The first thing you'll notice about Carla Thielbar is her purple hair, but here's what you'll remember about her: her passion to cure Alzheimer's. It is all because of her mom, Dianne. 

"She's my mom and she took care of me, so she deserves us to take care of her and I just want to make sure she gets the same love and care she gave us," Thielbar said. 

More than 5 million Americans live with the Alzheimer's Disease, at a cost of $259 billion a year.   

Without any treatment, those numbers are projected to explode to 16 million Americans with the disease, at a cost of over $1 trillion a year, by 2050.

© 2017 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.

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