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When a successful business executive and East Central University graduate sought medical assistance for worrisome health symptoms several years ago, he was only 48 years old and not a typical candidate for Alzheimer's disease.

Photo of Bill BridgwaterBut Bill Bridgwater, a former ECU football player and a 1978 graduate, eventually learned he had early onset Alzheimer's. Today he is a nationally recognized speaker and patient advocate on issues relating to Alzheimer's disease and will talk about his experiences as an Alzheimer patient at 4:30 p.m. Thursday [OCT. 29] in ECU's Estep Multimedia Center in the University Center.

He will discuss the disease, his personal story and the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's as well as answer questions and give an update on Federal Drug Administration pharmaceutical developments.

Bridgwater was named ECU's 2009 Distinguished Alumnus last spring. He could not attend the Centennial Evening of Honors & Recognition because of a prior commitment but planned to come to ECU for its Centennial Homecoming. Following his presentation Thursday, ECU President John Hargrave and ECU Alumni Association President Zeak Naifeh will recognize him as the 2009 Distinguished Alumnus.

While attending ECU, Bridgwater was president of the Student Senate and was named First Team All-Conference in football.

During his 25-year career in the global IT market, he held the positions of senior vice president, director, president and chief operating officer while working at four separate multi-billion-dollar corporations. He served on the boards of several companies including the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA).

He holds advanced technology certification from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is an Attaway Fellow.

Bridgwater serves on the National Alzheimer Association's Board of Directors, a first for an Alzheimer's patient. Additionally, he and his wife Twyla, also a 1978 ECU graduate, are consultants to the FDA and voting members on Alzheimer's trials dealing with promising imaging and pharmaceutical developments, another first for an Alzheimer's patient and caregiver.

He has appeared on all major television networks and earlier this year participated in a public service announcement with football coaches Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer on FOX Sports.

The Bridgwaters also have been interviewed for numerous newspapers and magazines such as GQ, Smart Money and, most recently, the LA Times.

They meet with legislators regarding Alzheimer's legislation at both the state and national levels. Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter appointed Bridgwater to the Colorado Alzheimer's Coordinating Council which is charged with evaluating the impact Alzheimer's will have on the state as baby boomers reach retirement age.

The Bridgwaters are retired and live in Castle Rock, Colo. They have a 29-year-old son, Brandon.

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