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Hoping 'We Back Pat' effort makes a difference

US Hall of Fame Olympics
Posted at 8:02 PM, Jan 25, 2023

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Every year, SEC women's basketball hosts a "We Back Pat" week in honor of legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt who died of Alzheimer's.

Kentucky will honor her at tomorrow night's game against Auburn. Money raised from the effort goes to research, educating people about the disease, and caring for those who are suffering.

UK coach Kyra Elzy and one of her players understand that pain.

As a former player of coach Pat Summitt, Kyra Elzy had a difficult time watching her mentor and friend change because of the disease.

"That was one of the hardest times of my life, to watch her... she would walk in a building that she owned and no longer remember where she was. Or she could no longer sign her autograph," said Elzy.

Elzy also knew what Summitt's family was going through. Along with her mother, Elzy cared for her grandmother who suffered for ten years before passing.

"To look at a loved one who can no longer remember anything and they're a shell of themselves, it makes you have more empathy and compassion," said Elzy.

Because of her grandmother and coach Summitt, Elzy is a supporter of UK's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, in the U.S. right now, more than six million people are battling Alzheimer's.

UK shooting guard Emma King appreciates her coach's dedication to finding a cure. She too once helped care for an Alzheimer's patient.

"For a person who had a whole lifetime of memories, and couldn't remember anything, it's sad to watch," said King.

That's why Elzy and the SEC have been moved to action, hoping the "We Back Pat" effort makes a difference.

"I know she's in heaven smiling down," said Elzy.

That game is tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum.