14-year-old fights to end Alzheimer's after loss of loved one

SEYMOUR, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Alexa Austin, 14, is part of a her Tennessee high school's volleyball team.

On the court, it's about being aggressive. Every spike, dig and set is meant to knock out her opponent.

"To be aggressive in volleyball you have to want the ball, you have to have the drive to got get it," said Austin.

The opponent Austin faces off the court is her toughest yet.

"When he first got diagnosed, I was really down, really sad," she said. "What's this going to do to my life. How is this going to change him?"

It was Alzheimer's, stripping away Alexa's grandfather's memories.

"He doesn't remember me, and other people had to go through this too," she said. "It was a really hard time to get over. Papaw doesn't remember me."

But Alexa stayed by his side, visiting him every day. Playing games and throwing parties, she did anything to lift his spirits.

"I played checkers with my Papaw every day about. He always won. I didn't let him win either," she said.

But in the end, he lost his fight to the disease.

"It was a really hard time not seeing him every day like I was used to but as a fundraising standpoint, I see that other people have this disease and I had to fight for them," she said.

Now Alexa digs in to find a cure. She's just 14 years old, but she spends hours volunteering and fundraising. So far she's raised more than $25,000 to fight Alzheimer's.

"I think it's terrible people losing their memories; good memories, bad memories and this disease, it just rips families apart because they think, 'Oh, he doesn't remember me anymore, she doesn't remember me anymore,' and I just want to find a cure for that - to help save the memories," she said.

To beat this competitor, she has to be aggressive in order to knock out the disease for good.

Read the original version of this article at local8now.com.