February 17, 2012 | By: Katie Pratt

Stephanie Gamblin, a staff support associate for Facilities Management in  the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, is on a quest to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.

Gamblin worked with the Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to develop a special Kentucky license plate to raise awareness about the disease. She is in the process of helping the association collect the 900 commitments it needs for the plate to be available at county clerk offices.

“I don’t think people realize the impact Alzheimer’s has not only on the victims, but their families,” Gamblin said. “I hope the license plate raises a lot of awareness.”

Gamblin has a very personal reason for wanting to help raise Alzheimer’s awareness. Her father, Tommy Hunt, was diagnosed with the disease nearly eight years ago.

Since then, Gamblin has participated several times in Walk to End Alzheimer’s and works to increase awareness throughout Western Kentucky.

“Alzheimer’s is a really hard disease in that it makes you feel helpless because you can’t do anything to make them better,” Gamblin said. “I wanted to do something in my dad’s honor and for the many others who suffer.”

Gamblin and her family are not alone. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. Of those, 80,000 are Kentuckians. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death in the top 10 that can’t be prevented, cured or slowed.

Teri Shirk is the president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association-Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter.

“With 80,000 Kentuckians diagnosed with the disease and 260,000 caregivers, Alzheimer’s is a prevalent disease in our society and state, but the public awareness about it is still relatively low,” Shirk said. “The license plate is one way we can alert the public to our crisis.”

The plates are lavender with a violet forget-me-not flower and include the words, “Honor, Remember, Care and “End Alzheimer’s.”

To sign-up to receive a license plate, Kentucky drivers need to fill out an application form and submit a check for $25 to the Alzheimer’s Association-Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter. Mail completed applications and checks to: Alzheimer’s Association, 6100 Dutchman’s Lane, Suite 401, Louisville, KY 40205.  

If the 900 commitments are collected, the Kentucky Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing will notify applicants by mail when the plates are ready for pickup at their county clerk’s office. This process can take between 30 and 90 days from the time the organization submits the applications to the Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing. The $25 deposit will be deducted from the licensing fee. Applicants can choose to donate an additional $10 to fund Alzheimer’s awareness and education in Kentucky.

More information about the license plate and application forms are available on the Alzheimer’s Association-Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter website, http://www.alz.org/kyin/in_my_community_56950.asp.