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Hastings grad helps tackle Alzheimer's

The RivALZ Twin Cities teams and volunteers pose for a group photo in 2016. The yearly flag football game raises money to support the Alzheimer's Association. Photo courtesy of Ashley Addison

Ashley Addison knows too well the devastation caused by Alzheimer's disease.

The Hastings High School class of 2012 graduate lost her great-grandmother, Phyllis McConnell, to Alzheimer's in 2013, and her grandmother, Dianne McConnell, has been battling the degenerative brain disease for three years.

To help in the fight against Alzheimer's disease, Addison will be lacing her cleats and hitting the field Saturday, Sept. 23, for RivALZ Twin Cities, a flag football game at Concordia University to support the Alzheimer's Association. Kickoff is noon at Sea Foam Stadium. Gates open at 11 a.m.

This will Addison's second year playing in the game that pits Team Blonde against Team Brunette.

"I came back to play this year because I feel like I'm making a difference," Addison wrote in an email. "I remember feeling so helpless last summer, and now I feel like I'm in the driver's seat of this disease."

She said RivALZ provides a support system for the volunteers, whether they lost a loved one to Alzheimer's disease, never got to meet a loved one because of it or are witnessing its effects firsthand as a caretaker.

"We all come together no matter what stage you're in, and that's what's so incredible," Addison said.

Addison is looking to raise $5,000 to contribute to Team Blonde's $106,000 goal. Team Brunette hopes to raise the same amount.

RivALZ began in 2005 as Blondes vs. Brunettes, a flag football event organized by a group of professional women in Washington, D.C. The event has since expanded to more than 40 cities.

Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia that affects an estimated 5.4 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the fifth leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older.

For more information about RivALZ Twin Cities or to donate to the event, visit

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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