Father and son get ready to race to raise awareness about Alzheimer's

Mandarin family lost dear loved one to Alzheimer's disease

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – March Madness means so many people are focused on basketball. A local family doesn’t mind hoops, but they’ve zeroed in on racing.

The Slupskis' cause connects with one of the priorities for Gov. Ron DeSantis. They want to find a way to end Alzheimer's disease. 

Alex Slupski and his father, Bill Slupski, are working on equipment as they get ready to race at the end of the month. They’ll go to Orlando and race in a 24-hour competition in which every member of the team will have something in common.

"In terms of the race, everyone on the team is driven to win. We have a good group of people. We're ready to compete," Alex said. "But, outside of the racing world, everyone on the team has somehow been affected by Alzheimer's. So both of those aspects of really brought us together."

Alex lost his grandfather to Alzheimer’s disease. Bill lost a cherished father-in-law.

"To see a man that spent his life learning struggling even with the basics, and then, obviously, with the impact on the family, my mother-in-law, the chief caregiver, and the stress that family members are put under as their loved ones are facing the disease," Bill said.

The Mandarin family is not alone in being touched by Alzheimer’s disease. And, recently, DeSantis said he's committing resources to fight the disease and support caregivers.

The global crisis continues and is seeing the increased cost of care in Florida. According to the Alzheimer's Association Central and North Florida Chapter, there are 560,000 people in the Sunshine State with the disease now and there could be 720,000 by 2025. The financial toll is staggering -- the disease will cost the nation $290 billion in 2019.

Bill and Alex know they’ll have fun Kart racing in Orlando, but more than that, they know they’ll remember their dear loved one and do their best to solve the problems for others.

"To see the community that has been built around this is really cool. And we hope that it has an impact on people and people watching the race or other teams, other drivers realize this is an issue that needs to be addressed," Alex said.

Bill added, "That's what I'm really excited about. People have come together to support the cause and if we do raise awareness, people may not have known a lot about Alzheimer's and its impact. You know, we're out there spreading that message."

Bill and Alex are competing in the Simcraft 24 Hours of Orlando Karting race March 30 and 31. It’s an international competition. To learn more about it, click here

About the Author:

Kent Justice

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights, reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.

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