CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jane Marks has seen firsthand the power of hope in the face of crippling odds.
Since becoming executive director of the West Virginia chapter of the Alzheimer's Association in 2001, Marks has seen relatives -- including her mother -- suffer from Alzheimer's disease, a form of dementia that adversely affects memory, thought and behavior.
"Every single one of us, if we're not already touched by this disease, is going to be," Marks said. "One of the reasons I'm so passionate about this is that I feel like we're still not paying enough attention. This disease is extraordinarily difficult; we have extraordinary numbers suffering from it, and yet we're not anywhere near where we need to be to combat it or to cure it."
Marks and Nancy Cipoletti, the state Alzheimer's Association's former executive director, will be honored with the 2013 Rockefeller Award on Thursday during the annual Thanks for the Memories Luncheon held at the Charleston Marriott Town Center.
The award, named in honor of its first recipient, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is given each year by the state chapter of the Alzheimer's Association to two people who have demonstrated outstanding support and leadership in combating Alzheimer's disease in West Virginia, according to Laurel Kirksey, director of constituent relations for the chapter.
"Each year we give this award away we're celebrating the people who truly work for the Alzheimer's cause," Kirksey said. "It is really about raising community awareness about Alzheimer's, because there's still more work to be done."
With more than 70 million Baby Boomers across the U.S., many of whom are entering their 60s and 70s, Cipoletti said the potential impact of Alzheimer's is greater than ever before.