The following are excerpts of remarks made by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) at the 2019 Bradley Beach Alzheimer’s Walk on Saturday, September 14, 2019:
Every 65 seconds someone, somewhere in the country is newly afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Today there are an estimated 5.8 million people in America—180,000 in New Jersey alone—coping with Alzheimer’s.
Unless we research our way to a breakthrough, nearly 14 million will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease by 2050.
This morning, you are not only raising critical funds for Alzheimer’s disease research, but you also bring visibility, you mobilize, and you prioritize efforts to mitigate, and someday cure, this catastrophic disease.
You also bring hope and a strong sense of solidarity with patients, family, and friends.
Over twenty years ago (1998) I along with Congressman Ed Markey created the bipartisan Congressional Alzheimer’s Caucus to aggressively promote policies to more effectively combat Alzheimer’s including robustly fund promising research.
181 Members of Congress are part of the caucus.
After years of legislative struggle, the big breakthrough came in 2011, when we passed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA)—a law I coauthored. NAPA created a new, frequently updated and expanded national strategy with the goal of finding a cure, or a disease-modifying therapy by 2025. NAPA also created an advisory committee for a whole-of-government response to the Alzheimer’s crisis.
The impact has been profound. Alzheimer’s research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was $600 million in 2015. We’ve quadrupled it to $2.3 billion this year.
Last December the President signed a top priority of the Alzheimer’s Association into law—the BOLDS Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act to establish Alzheimer’s Centers of Excellence for more effective interventions and to assist state and local public health departments.
One of my bills that passed the House—Kevin and Avonte’s Law—to prevent wandering was signed into law as part of the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act.
As you know, Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden runs an excellent program—Project Lifesaver—to track, find and rescue a wandering Alzheimer’s patient or person with autism wearing a tracking bracelet within 30 minutes.
I urge everyone from Monmouth County to look into this program if you have not yet done so.
It is my hope that new avenues will soon be discovered to prevent the long goodbye endured by so many families impacted by Alzheimer’s today.