A former mailman, who had to stop the job he loved when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, helped debut a USPS stamp Friday that will help fight the disease.
Doug Peterson was a mail carrier in Escondido for 27 years before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease — a brain disorder that destroys a person’s memory and thinking skills — five years ago.
He may no longer recognize his wife or his kids, but Peterson’s wife Antonea says he remembers how to deliver mail.
“He gets mail from all over the world delivered to our house,” Antonea said. “Every day he sorts through the mail and delivers it through the rooms. That’s how much he loved being a mailman.”
The United States Postal Service on Thursday unveiled a stamp aimed to raise funds towards finding a cure for the disease affecting Doug, and millions of others around the country.
The Alzheimer’s Semipostal fundraising stamp will be sold for 60 cents; 10 cents of every stamp sold will go towards the National Institutes of Health for Alzheimer’s research.
Antonea was grateful to know the organization that her husband dedicated his life to was aiding in the fight to find a cure.
“We are privileged to know that the United States Post Office has a stamp that is going to help us find a cure to eradicate this disease, to help find a cure, so that way our children and our grandchildren will not have to go through this.”
On Friday, Antonea, Doug, scientists and Alzheimer’s awareness advocates, encouraged San Diegans to support Alzheimer’s research by purchasing the stamp throughout the holiday season.
Gerold Chun is a professor and Senior Vice President at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. Chun says his organization relies on federal funds, like those the stamp will raise, to research the disease in hopes of finding a cure or treatment.
“There have been multiple advances to understanding the molecules as well as the genes [in Alzheimer’s Disease] and so all of this kind of work stems from the federal government’s support,” Chung said.
The number of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s Disease is increasing.
In San Diego, there are more than 53,000 people with the disease and 150,000 people who care for them, according to the San Diego/Imperial County chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. It is the third leading cause of death in the county.
“There’s no medicine to cure it, or slow it down or prevent it so there is a lot of research that we need to do,” the association’s Sarah Gramby said.