Pedal for Alzheimer’s, a 501c3 non-profit charitable platform, holds a special place in my heart. As a soccer player turned cyclist, I embarked on this incredible journey in 2019 after rupturing my ACL. While I’ve always been an athlete, the world of road cycling opened up new horizons for me. Little did I know that my newfound passion would intersect with a cause that’s deeply personal to me.
In 2011, one month after arriving in the United States from Italy, I received the news of my grandmother’s passing. It wasn’t Alzheimer’s, but rather a brain tumor that had slowly grown over the past year. Although different, her decline in mental faculties bore striking similarities to the mental deterioration experienced by Alzheimer’s patients. Witnessing her gradual loss of the ability to perform even the simplest tasks was heart-wrenching. It was a stark reminder of the relentless nature of diseases that rob individuals of their cherished memories and abilities.
Beyond my own experience, I’ve seen the profound impact of Alzheimer’s on several of my close friends who are caring for parents battling this relentless disease. Alzheimer’s affects not only the afflicted individuals but also their entire families, who bear the emotional and physical burdens of caregiving. It’s a disease that touches the lives of countless people, leaving no community untouched.
As a veterinarian, I’ve dedicated my life to the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence. This commitment extends beyond the health of animals to the well-being of all living beings. Cognitive decline is a recognized condition not only in humans but also in our beloved animal companions. In the spirit of “One Health,” a collaborative approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of people, animals, plants, and the environment, I felt a calling to become an ambassador for Pedal for Alzheimer’s.
My mission as a Pedal for Alzheimer’s ambassador is twofold. First, I aim to educate and raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, a disease that affects not only people but also our cherished animals. The shared suffering and the potential shared solutions underline the importance of comprehensive research, embracing the interconnection between our well-being and that of our animal companions.
My journey with Pedal for Alzheimer’s is not only a testament to my personal growth as a cyclist but also a commitment to a cause that touches my heart deeply. I ride with Pedal for Alzheimer’s not only for those who are afflicted but also for the hope of a brighter future where Alzheimer’s is no longer a source of pain and loss. Together, we pedal towards a world free from the shadow of this devastating disease, where memories are cherished, not stolen, and where the health and well-being of all living beings are valued and protected.
Luca Giori, DVM, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical & Diagnostic Sciences at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville.