THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Dementia hits close to home for Rams quarterbacks coach/pass game coordinator Zac Robinson.
A few years ago, his father Rusty was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD). Zac didn't know much about the disease, but once he saw it, it was the first thing that came to mind for his cause of choice – the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) – for My Cause My Cleats.
"Since it was so close to our family, definitely wanted to just try to raise awareness for it," Zac told theRams.com.
FTD – also called Frontotemporal Dementia – is the cause of approximately 10 percent to 20 percent of dementia cases, according to MayoClinic.org. Its symptoms typically include behavior changes, speech and language problems, and movement disorders due it affecting the brain's frontal and temporal lobes.
Zac described his and his family's experience with the disease as "waves," given the up and down nature of it. Zac said Rusty passed away a couple of months ago, but not due to FTD.
"It's hard, and you got to just truly cherish every single day," Robinson said, when asked what he would those with loved ones dealing with FTD. "We were so fortunate to ride the waves of it. We saw the first year of it, it was really hard on our family, and especially my mom, who was there every single day. We got to ride the waves of, the initial first start of it was was really tough, and then there was kind of a breakthrough after about a year, and we kind of were like, 'This is our dad again,' but you know that there's still some certain things that are a little bit different, but you're still able to have conversations. We didn't have to see, years (and) years down the line when some of these things can get really, really tough on families."
AFTD's mission is to improve the quality of life of people affected by FTD and drive research to a cure, working daily to advance research, awareness, support, education and advocacy. Since there is not currently a cure, AFTD offers ways to manage the disease's symptoms to preserve and maximize quality of life for those with an affected family member.
Robinson hopes the attention drawn to the organization this weekend positively impacts it.
"Just raising the awareness is the biggest thing," Robinson said. "Whatever comes from that is all great."
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