14-year-old fights to end Alzheimer's

Published: Aug. 4, 2017 at 6:27 PM EDT
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Alexa Austin, 14, is part of a her high school volleyball team. On the court, it's about being aggressive. Every spike, dig and set is meant to knock out her opponent.

"To be aggressive in volleyball you have to want the ball, you have to have the drive to got get it," said Austin.

The opponent Austin faces off the court is her toughest yet.

"When he first got diagnosed I was really down, really sad," she said. "What's this going to do to my life, how is this going to change him?"

It was Alzheimer's, stripping away Alexa's grandfather's memories.

"He doesn't remember me, and other people had to go through this too. It was a really hard time to get over, Papaw doesn't remember me."

But, Alexa stayed by his side, visiting him every day. Playing games and throwing parties, anything to lift his spirits.

"I played checkers with my Papaw every day about, he always won. I didn't let him win either," she said.

But in the end, he lost his fight to the disease.

"It was a really hard time not seeing him every day like I was used to but as a fundraising standpoint, I see that other people have this disease and I had to fight for them."

Now Alexa digs in to find a cure. She's just 14 years old but she spends hours volunteering and fundraising. So far she's raised more than $25,000 to fight Alzheimer's.

"I think it's terrible people losing their memories, good memories, bad memories and this disease, it just rips families apart because they think oh he doesn't remember me anymore, she doesn't remember me anymore and I just want to find a cure for that. to help save the memories."

To beat this competitor, she has to be aggressive in order to knock out the disease for good.

Alexa is hosting the first annual JL Austin Memorial Alzheimer's Ride Saturday. The ride starts at Classic Leathers in Morristown and ends at Manes Funeral Home in Newport. There is also an auction following the ride.

Donations can be made out to Alzheimer's of Tennessee in care of Alexa Austin Manes Funeral Home 363 East Main St. Newport, TN 37821.