A battle worth fighting

Coach dedicates raising Alzheimer's awareness in honor of his father

November 15, 2017


Photo by Shreya Rao

Drain focuses on a picture of his dad that is set as his phone’s background.

Softball coach Terry Drain remembers the day his dad changed forever.

It was the day that led to eight years of constant reminders of what his name was.

It was the day Terry had been expecting for some time.

It was the day his father was officially under the effects of Alzheimer’s.

On Oct. 6, Terry lost his father, Lloyd Drain to complications from Alzheimer’s. But mentally, Terry said he lost him years before that. Lloyd was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 10 years ago.

“After [two years] he had no idea who I was or who my brothers were anymore,” Terry said. “It was very difficult because my dad was pretty much my hero; strongest guy I ever knew. He was capable of doing so many things, so for him to end up in such a state as Alzheimer’s [where it] strips you of all your humanity, who you once were — the man I knew for the last eight years was not my dad. [Alzheimer’s] takes so much from you. To me, it’s the most horrendous disease out there just because of what it does to your body, your system and [your family].

Lloyd was from a small town in Oklahoma during The Depression. He enlisted in the Navy and eventually became an airline mechanic, piloting for 25 years. After retiring, he bought a farm and lived there with one of his sons. But three years after being diagnosed, Lloyd’s condition deteriorated until he could no longer recognize his family.

“You don’t like to treat [those affected] differently, but you do out of instinct; you become protective over them, like you would your own child,” Terry said “There’s a picture of me and my three brothers where we have our names taped above each one of us so when he saw us he would try to remember who we were. You could see that he could remember our faces, but not our names. When he’d see the picture, it would click with him.”

Three years ago, in honor of his father, Terry decided to spread awareness about Alzheimer’s to not only to himself, but the community as well. This year, he raised $1,511 for the Walk To End Alzheimer’s. He also participated in a three mile ceremonial walk on Oct. 28 in dedication to his father, which raised $310,357.08 toward advancing Alzheimer’s support, care and research. 

It was very difficult because my dad was pretty much my hero; strongest guy I ever knew. He was capable of doing so many things, so for him to end up in such a state as Alzheimer’s [where it] strips you of all your humanity, who you once were — the man I knew for the last eight years was not my dad.

— Terry Drain

I was able to raise more money than teams of ten to twelve people which I’m pretty happy [about],” Terry said. “Hopefully next year, when I do it again, I [will] get more people involved and raise more money. The walk was something more private for me, but since [my father’s] passing it’s something I want to become more open [about] and [want] more people to know about it.”

During the walk, Terry met a man who advocates for Alzheimer’s research by speaking to hospitals and programs. Although it’s still in the works, Terry plans to partner up with him and work together to speak to medical programs and caretakers about Alzheimer’s. Terry said he is looking forward to being an advocate and getting involved in other ways. 

“It’s great that he’s raising awareness for the cause,” junior catcher Macey Neuse said. “His passion for something that has affected his family throughout the years is a passion that people need in order to bring light to this disease.”

Senior pitcher Elena Barnes said Terry’s efforts to combat Alzheimer’s is just another example of his willingness to help others.

“I think his dedication to fighting Alzheimer’s is something that’s personal for him,” Barnes said. “Drain is someone who is always willing to help and he wants the best for everyone. The walk was not only a memoriam, but it was also to help raise awareness to hopefully help find a cure for the disease.”

Alzheimer’s is fairly common on Lloyd’s side of the family. Out of 12 siblings, nine were diagnosed with the disease. Terry said that he acknowledges the fact that there is a 50 percent chance that of all four siblings, two will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In order to prevent chances of getting early onset Alzheimer’s, Terry has changed his diet.   

“Yes, it’s very likely that I probably will end up with Alzheimer’s at some point which is, again, standing from the research that I have done, is something like any other type of disease that can be prevented through different types of diets,” Terry said. “It’s not something you should be ashamed of; there [are] a lot of families going through it. It’s something that can be inherited but is also something that is, hopefully, preventable. [I am] just trying to raise awareness that [Alzheimer’s] is a growing disease.”

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