It's been a little more than a week since the world learned that beloved fantasy novelist Sir Terry Pratchett passed away at the age of 66, and we're all still sort of meditating on his legacy. His many novels and stories are a huge part of that, to be sure, as are his sense of humor, his wisdom and his support of up-and-coming genre writers through things like the Terry Pratchett First Novel Award. He also leaves behind a legacy of spreading awareness and knowledge of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
After being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, specifically a rare form called posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), in 2007, Pratchett became an outspoken supporter of dementia research. He gave much of his own personal fortune to Alzheimer's research funding, spread awareness of just how little funding money there is for such research in comparison to funding for things like cancer research, lobbied the British government for increased dementia research funding and participated in a documentary about his illness. So it's no wonder that, upon his passing, Pratchett's friends and fans (including longtime friend and collaborator Neil Gaiman) encouraged donations to Alzheimer's and dementia research in the author's honor.
Well, that call has apparently been answered. According to BBC News, the UK-based Research Institute For the Care of Older People, which specializes in dementia research, has received a "huge pledge" of new funds in the week since Pratchett's death, equalling nearly $60,000. Pratchett began visiting the institute in 2008, where he was treated by its director, Professor Roy Jones.
"[Pratchett's] courage in doing this (speaking out about his illness and raising awareness) has been an enormous help to everyone affected as well as to researchers trying to find a more effective treatment," Jones said.
In the final years of his life, Pratchett did everything he could to raise awareness about dementia, and his readers seem to have taken up the cause in his absence, so it looks like he definitely succeeded. For more information, visit the Research Institute for the Care of Older People website HERE.
(Via BBC News)