A daughter gone too soon, an Oregon woman fights on Capitol Hill to stop Alzheimer's

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Almost 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's. That number is expected to rapidly grow in the coming years. The Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, an advocacy arm of the Alzheimer’s Association, is sending thousands to Washington this week to tell their stories. An Oregon woman says the disease took something precious from her, so she is helping in the fight for a cure.

“We had heard that it was for old people,” said Dawn Frazier.

A button on Dawn Frazier’s sash shows a photo of a young woman. It is her daughter Ronda, who died at 34 from Alzheimer’s.

“It was devastating. You don’t expect to lose your child before, you know, before you do yourself,” said Frazier.

Frazier says doctors told her it was depression that was ailing her daughter in the early 2000s. But a mother’s intuition lead her to believe it was more than that. Her daughter was young and had just had a baby. Dawn did not know she would have to raise that child herself.

“Just about everybody you talk to has been affected with Alzheimer’s at some point in their life,” said Frazier.

Dawn is hoping for more funding from the federal government to combat the disease. The Alzheimer’s Impact Movement says the foot needs to remain on the gas when it comes to increasing research dollars.

“We need to be doing more. We’ve made progress. We have so much more to do,” said John Funderburk, the senior director of advocacy for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Funderburk says Congress has been a huge help when it comes to research funding, but he says with increasing numbers of those impacted more is necessary. He wants more research dollars, but also more help for caregivers and more attention paid to those diagnosed at a younger age.

“It’s not just affecting one person, but it’s affecting caregivers and family all around,” said Funderburk.

The amount of Alzheimer’s funding that Congress appropriates will be approved later this year as part of their annual budget.