Almost 18 months ago, Annemarie Beran lost her grandfather to Alzheimer's.
Odds are, you don't know who Annemarie Beran is. You probably don't know that she's the star of a high school girls' basketball team that sits at 13-3 this season. You probably don't know that she's scored 984 career points—and she's only a junior. You probably don't know these things because, I would bet, you don't follow Richmond-area high school girls' basketball. And to be fair, I've never met her either.
But Annemarie plays for the J.R. Tucker Tigers. And that means I know who she is, because my aunt Mollie is Tucker's coach.
Three years ago—while her grandfather was still alive but losing his ability to understand or remember much about the world around him—Annemarie approached Mollie about using the sport they both love to honor her grandfather. The Pat Summitt Foundation was organizing something they called "We Back Pat" games with SEC schools. For one game, each school would donate the proceeds from a designated game to the Pat Summitt Foundation in support of Alzheimer's research. Annemarie wanted J.R. Tucker to be a part of it.
On February 1, 2013, Tucker became the only high school in the country to host a We Back Pat game. With both the varsity boys and girls playing on one night, Tucker packed its gym and sold T-shirts and merchandise. In 2014, they hosted a second game. Over two years, the Tucker basketball programs raised $9,400 for Alzheimer's research.
This year's game is tonight. Annemarie has averaged over 20 points a game this season. Sitting only 16 points shy of 1,000, there's a pretty good chance Annemarie hits that milestone during the game she helped organize.
If you live around Richmond, you should go. Go for Annemarie's grandfather, who encouraged her to find what she was passionate about and make a difference. Go for Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in the history of college basketball who has been sidelined by Alzheimer's since 2012. Go for my grandfather, or maybe yours, or maybe someone you know—Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death in America.