‘Once the disease really hit, it took over’: Local couple to walk for cure to end Alzheimer’s

Pinellas County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Carrie and Willie Tillman met 56 years ago, and just celebrated their 50th anniversary. Fifty years can bring many smiles and joyous moments. It also comes with challenges. Right now, the two are handling their biggest challenge yet.

“A lot’s going on these days,” said Carrie. “He has dementia, and it is definitely a lot on me.”

Carrie says her husband’s decline was rapid. It took just three months before the family noticed major differences in his diagnosis. Their son, also named Willie, is a football coach at Lakewood High School.

“Once the disease really hit, it took over,” he said about his father.

Carrie said Willie often talks about his days in the military.

“His commander, and what happened when he was in the military. He thinks it’s happening right now, so I would say he’s about 30 years behind,” she said.

The stress of being a caretaker is tough on Carrie and her family, which is why this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s means even more to them as they work to educate and raise funds for a cure.

“More research needs to be done, because this robs you. It just robs you,” she said.

As she looks at the man who once knew her, Carrie’s love for him does not fail. For her son, that means everything.

“I had a talk with her two days ago,” said Willie. “I just told her how she is my hero. I don’t understand how she’s been so strong.”

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Pinellas County is Oct. 10. The entire Tillman family plans to walk. To learn more about the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and register to walk, click here.

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