Ariel Massengale: I'm honored to have played for Pat Summitt

Knox County employee Pat Carson signs a banner in support of University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt in Knoxville Tenn. Summitt vowed to make a difference in the fight against Alzheimer's

Ariel Massengale: I'm honored to have played for Pat Summitt

"She told me that even as Pat's memory continued to fade", Manning said, "if Pat saw one of my games or commercials on TV, she pointed at the screen and said, 'That's my friend".

“Pats goal since shes been diagnosed with this disease was to be sure that people realized that she not only be remembered for winning basketball games but making a difference in this disease, ” Cronan said.

Since Summitt's death the foundation that bears her name has received $320,000 in donations, a number that includes roughly $225,000 in proceeds from the sale of commemorative T-shirts.

The event is free and will be held at Thompson-Boling Arena at 6:00 p.m. CST. Tennessee women's basketball coach Holly Warlick speaks during a ceremony to celebrate the life of former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday federal funding for Alzheimer's research has more than doubled - to $991 million - since 2011, the year the Pat Summitt Foundation was created in the wake of passage of the National Alzheimer's Project.

"I like to say that it took me awhile to graduate from the pool house to the main house with Pat, but once you get a chance to be Pat's friend and be around Pat, and experience all the things that come with being Pat's friend - not just the things you get to do with her, but how you get to know her and spend time with her - those are the moments I'll cherish the most", Antonelli said.

The list of speakers included recently retired quarterback Peyton Manning, a former Tennessee football star who called Summitt "someone who literally changed history".

"After I left, I got a text from (Washington Post columnist) Sally Jenkins that reminded me of Pat's words to anyone in enough agony to come crying to her", Manning said.

Petersen gave Summitt her original diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic and now is co-chair of the Pat Summitt Foundation's medical advisory council. Petersen recalled an address Summitt made at a dementia conference in Minnesota. Former coach Mickie DeMoss said that she was family to her. "She maintained a sense of humor as far into the disease as she could".

In many parts of America, especially cities with large universities but no professional teams, college basketball is an obsession, with crowds, broadcast deals and coaches' salaries rivaling the major leagues, even though the players are unpaid students. Beth Kallmyer, the vice president of constituent services for the Alzheimers Association, said about 200,000 have early-onset Alzheimers and start developing symptoms before the age of 65. "But we are celebrating a great occasion and I'm really looking forward to seeing everybody", said Massengale. “The impact of that is significant. There are still a lot of people that aren't talking about it. It's not unlike how cancer was seen maybe back in the '50s and '60s. "People started paying attention to it".

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