Jim Cooper torch

Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper places the torch in its holder at the annual Purple Olympics in May. Cooper, who lost his wife after a long battle with Alzheimer’s earlier this year, was the featured speaker at the event this year. 

Alzheimer’s Tennessee is celebrating a major milestone in the fight to keep seniors battling Alzheimer’s and related dementias safe: the Silver Alert bill is now officially law in the state of Tennessee.

The bill, which passed in the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Bill Lee, seeks to put statewide protocols in place for the benefit of finding missing citizens who have wandered due to dementia, physical impairment or disability, thus making locating them and returning them home safely much quicker. The bill received unanimous support in the General Assembly this session, according to Alzheimer’s Tennessee officials.

Law enforcement agencies and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will work together to leverage the resources of the state and communities to find those individuals, the organization said in an announcement. The bill takes effect July 1. 

Purple Olympics 

Prior to the success of the Silver Alert Bill, the local Alzheimer’s Tennessee office celebrated another victory: raising money to carry the fight against Alzheimer’s and dementias. According to Fran Gray, Regional Coordinator for the South Central Tennessee office, the latest Purple Olympics raised more than $30,000 to benefit the organization.

The Purple Olympics are an annual fundraising event put on by Gray’s office. Typically held at the Tullahoma High School gymnasium, the event features live music, a special opening ceremony and plenty of “brain games” designed to keep mental acuity sharp for all participants.

This year, Gray said she hoped to raise at least $30,000 from the games. The money raised by the organization benefits families across Tennessee, including in Coffee and the surrounding counties, including research and education efforts for families and health care providers. At the last count, Gray told The News, she’d collected more than $36,000. 

Upcoming events 

Looking to the future, Gray said her office is preparing to host a special trivia night at Daddy Billy’s next week. Starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 17, trivia fans can come to Daddy Billy’s, 119 NW Atlantic St., to take part in a trivia competition and help Alzheimer’s Tennessee raise even more money for the cause.

Trivia teams can consist of up to six people for the competition. There is a $10 per person entry fee to compete. That entry fee will be donated to the organization.

During the trivia night, Spinelli’s will also offer a special meal deal consisting of a popular big slice of pizza and a soft drink for just $5.

Space for the trivia night is limited, so interested individuals are asked to call 454-2348 to guarantee their space.

Gray said, as an added bonus, Purple Olympics participants can have their trivia scores added to their Olympics amount to determine who will be the grand champion for the summer.

Gray said she is also looking forward to being able to offer in-person support groups at Morning Pointe soon. Morning Pointe, like many long-term care facilities in the state, shut its door to visitors amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to stop the spread of the virus, leaving Gray and her groups without a physical location to meet with patients and family members of those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

However, as restrictions are easing and more people receive their COVID-19 vaccines, the likelihood of meeting face-to-face again is rising.

“We’re very hopeful that we’re going to have in-person support groups again,” she said.

For more information on Alzheimer’s Tennessee, contact Gray at 434-2348.

Staff Writer

Erin McCullough has won awards for her news reporting, community lifestyles and education reporting in the three years she's been a journalist. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and currently lives in Tullahoma with her cat, Luna.

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