“There is no such thing as defeat except when it comes from within. as long as a person doesn’t admit he is defeated, he is not defeated. . . . He’s just a little behind and isn’t through fighting.” Darrell K. Royal
Instead of breaking down the individual battles the Texas Longhorns have to win against the Texas Tech Red Raiders or the quarterback controversy that surfaced this week, I’m going to address a bigger topic.
The more important showdown against Alzheimer’s Disease.
Edith Royal, wife of legendary UT football coach Darrell, is putting some of the family’s personal memorabilia up for auction with the proceeds going to the Darrell K. Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease.
The auction will take place on Nov. 11 in Austin.
Edith first acknowledged that Darrell had been living with dementia for several years during a meeting with the State Legislative Committee in Austin.
The college football coaching legend was quoted in the Austin American-Statesman as telling the committee "Thank you very much, I feel like I'm home."
Royal coached Texas from 1957-1976. During that time, the school won its first three football national championships and 11 Southwest Conference championships.
The stadium was renamed in his honor in 1996 and fans commonly refer to Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium as simply DKR.
Current Longhorns coach Mack Brown opened practice to Royal to link Texas’ championship tradition to recent teams, but Royal has scaled back the appearances in the last couple of years.
Items included in the auction are a diamond pendant commemorating the 1963 national title and a diamond ring from the 2005 Rose Bowl. Brown led the Longhorns to a 41-38 win over Southern California to help Texas win its first national championship in 35 years that season.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s. The CDC also estimates that half of people 85 or older may have the disease.
Although I know of Royal and his gridiron success, for me the legend is bigger than life simply because the man retired before I was even born.
However, the disease itself and the fight for the cure is a personal one.
Francisco Alvarado, my great-uncle, died in 2011 at the age of 82 after living with the disease for the better part of a decade.
Words cannot express how painful and depressing it was to see someone who was a beloved figure in your life slip into a man that barely recognizes you during his final years.
The fact that a person who provided me with some of my most cherished childhood memories was not able to share them with me any longer was by far the biggest thing the disease took from me.
This disease affects the lives of so many people so even if you don’t attend the auction or can’t contribute money, please visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website at alz.org and learn more about the disease.