Former professional skateboarder Tony Hawk announced on social media this week that his 94-year-old mother, Nancy, had passed away from Alzheimer’s disease.
“My mom died peacefully this afternoon after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” Hawk, 51, wrote on his Facebook page. “We watched helplessly as she slid away — mentally and physically — in rapid decline over the last few years.”
On his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Hawk wrote a long post venerating his mother’s life and describing her long battle with the disease. Nancy had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 10 years ago and had recently experienced a rapid decline.
However, Tony Hawk decided to focus on her life, rather than her Alzheimer’s diagnosis and battle. “Instead of dwelling on the painful disease that took her away from us, I would like to honor her with acknowledgment of the successes in life,” Hawk wrote.
His mother grew up during the Great Depression, and “managed to raise four kids on a meager budget while providing us with plenty of encouragement and confidence to follow our passions,” he continued.
“She earned her doctorate in business management at an age that most would choose to retire from work altogether,” Hawk wrote. “She was a surrogate mom and a beacon of warmth to many of my misfit friends with weird hair and difficult backgrounds. She worried when I got hurt skating, but never discouraged me from doing it because she understood the unparalleled joy it brought me. She taught me to treat everyone equally, to embrace diversity and help those in need.”
In previous posts, Hawk has advocated for Alzheimer’s awareness and charity.
Hawk isn’t the first celebrity to discuss Alzheimer’s openly in the public. Earlier this year, Dr. Mehmet Oz opened up about his mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The cardiothoracic surgeon and host of The Dr. Oz Show said he missed the early symptoms of his mother’s disease, and also revealed he had the APOE4 gene that puts him at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s himself.
Currently, there are over 5.5 million people living with Alzheimer’s in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow in the coming decades to an estimated 14 million.