A beloved NFL coach who lives in the Charlotte area is in the fight of his life, and he’s trying to save others in the process.
Marty Schottenheimer is one of the winningest coaches in football history, but suffers from Alzheimer’s. He’s part of a clinical trial at Carolinas Medical Center that he hopes will help others in their battles.
Schottenheimer and his wife Pat have been married 50 years, and both of them love to tell the story of how they first met.
“We were both seniors in college and we went down to Daytona Beach, Florida for spring break,” Pat recalled.
The couple considers themselves a team. Marty spent 20 years as a head coach in the NFL. Not only is he one of the winningest coaches of all-time, he’s also one of the most respected.
“When the Alzheimer’s reared its ugly head, things started to change,” Pat said.
The two still do everything together. But Marty doesn’t always realize he has the disease, sometimes asking Pat “what do they call it?”
“It may not help him, may not be in time to help him, probably won’t be, but we’re hopeful we’ll help people in the future,” said Pat, describing the clinical trial Schottenheimer’s a part of.
The trial is expected to last three years. The hope is the drug they’re testing will eventually slow the progress of the symptoms or even prevent Alzheimer’s altogether.
Dr. Oleg Tcheremissine is running the trial and says he thinks the drug could make a real impact on the disease in the next five to 10 years.
“I think there is an incredible opportunity here to make a real difference,” Marty said. “Why not do it? If you can make a difference for people, later on, it’s a no-brainer.”
The retired coach said he is getting through this, like everything else, because he has his partner at his side.
“When things get tough, I can always count on her,” he said. “Fifty years’ worth.”
“I want people to know that life is good and we’re going to take really good care of him and whatever happens is going to happen and we’re going to be there,” Pat said.