Glen Allen teen educates classmates about Alzheimer’s

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GLEN ALLEN, Va. (WRIC) — Some of Kalista Pepper’s favorite moments with her grandfather happened at the beach.

“Every single morning he would take me to this little store Wee Winks, and he would always buy me something,” the Glen Allen High School Junior remembers. “That’s not something he can do anymore.”

Her Pop-Pa, as she calls him, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease a few years ago, in the footsteps of his mother who battled it for almost two decades.

“They don’t recognize now that it’s something, it’s something important,” she says. “It’s something that will affect them later in life whether or not they realize it. It’ll affect their parents, maybe them, their friends, their family.”

Pepper has watched symptoms change him and is now using her experiences to get her generation involved in the cause.

“They don’t recognize now that it’s something, it’s something important,” she says. “It’s something that will affect them later in life whether or not they realize it. It’ll affect their parents, maybe them, their friends, their family.”

poppa2Pepper says she speaks with her classmates as often as possible and sees how the statistics could even affect her school.

“There are 1,661 kids enrolled,” she explains to 8News Anchor Amy Lacey. “That means 185 of those kids will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s after the age of 65.”

With the help of the Alzheimer’s Association, Pepper hopes to start a club at school to fight misconceptions.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s just forgetting things,” Pepper describes what many teens think about the disease. “Who really cares? Everyone forgets things.”

“It’s more than just forgetting things, it’s more than just forgetting where your car keys are, it’s more than forgetting to do this, to do that. It’s forgetting who you are, forgetting your life, forgetting the people you love.”

Pepper is determined to honor her Pop-Pa by taking action.

“He used to do so many things,” she says. “It’s more than just forgetting things, it’s more than just forgetting where your car keys are, it’s more than forgetting to do this, to do that. It’s forgetting who you are, forgetting your life, forgetting the people you love.”

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The Pepper family is participating in the 2016 Walk to End Alzheimer’s on November 5. Register to join the WRIC Taking the Lead team by following this link.

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