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Council proclamations promote awareness of persons with disabilities, Alzheimers

Renee Ledbetter broke down as she accepted a City of Ceres proclamation declaring June as National Alzheimer's Month in Ceres.

Ledbetter, who is a representative of the Alzheimer's Advocacy Group of Congressman Jeff Denham's office, as well as president of the Ceres Chamber of Commerce, explained that she was a caregiver to both parents who suffered from dementia and Alzheimer's. She called it a "growing and threatening disease."

The proclamation noted that today there are over 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's with that number expected to grow to 16 million by a century "if we don't develop a cure or an effective treatment." An estimated 588,000 Californians have been diagnosed with the disease with 401 living in Ceres and 1,203 caregivers locally.

Researchers are making great strides in developing ways to diagnose and treat the disease, that rate has to be accelerated if the world is to come up with a disease altering treatment in the next 15 years.

"Every 67 seconds another individual in California develops Alzheimer's Disease," said Ledbetter. "California families contribute $22 billion in unpaid care for their loved ones. Ranked as the fifth leading cause of death in California, Alzheimer's is the only disease without a known cause. Alzheimer's is the most expensive disease."

Vierra asked residents to visit the Alzheimer's Association website ( ) to learn more about Alzheimer's Disease and ways to help. Ledbetter suggested visiting too.

The mayor also issued a proclamation declaring June as Disability Awareness Month in Ceres. He said increasing public awareness about diverse abilities is vital to fighting the stigma and discrimination that "often serves as a barrier to employment, socialization and individual wellbeing." He said an estimate 4,050,631 people with disabilities in California and over 68,840 people over the age of five with disabilities in Stanislaus County. Also, within the next 12 months at least one out of eight Californians will experience a disability either personally or through a family member, said Mayor Vierra. He said the disabled can be independent and productive through their abilities.

The proclamation was accepted by Carolyn Teixeira Gomas, a representative of the Society for Disabilities. She quoted from a comment posted by Donald Liner on the group's Facebook page which stated, "My disability will always be a piece of me but if that's the only part of me you recognize, then you've only scratched the surface of who I am."