PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Westchester County high school student has taken on Alzheimer’s disease with a school club.

As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported, Max Levy, 17, is a typical high school senior.

The Byram Hills High School student plays on the tennis team and is a member of the choir but decided to raise awareness about a disease that directly impacted him and his family.

“How about I start a club to spread awareness and raise some money for Alzheimer’s?” said Max Levy.

Over the past three years, the Growth and Awareness Group for Alzheimer’s has raised more than $65,000 for research.

About 100 students meet regularly and share stories, Adams reported. Levy’s maternal grandmother had Alzheimer’s.

“I still can’t remember the last time that she called me by my name,” Levy said of his grandmother. “She suffered from a few mini strokes, lost her sight, lost her speech, started not to be able to walk and she passed away right before the start of my freshman year.”

Max’s mother said the group provides an outlet to students who’ve gone through a similar situation.

“People just don’t want to say ‘my mother forgot my name, my grandmother put her shoe in the refrigerator.’ They don’t want to admit that, they keep that behind closed doors. I think that time is ending now,” Max’s mother Cindy Shmerler told Adams.

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She said she’s in awe of her son’s efforts.

“This past year, which he probably wouldn’t tell you, he was a ball boy at the US Open and he took his entire salary and donated it to the cause this year,” Shmerler said.

Levy said the group is aimed at raising awareness.

“The amount of money spend on Alzheimer’s research is one-sixth of that of the research into Viagra and the production of popcorn in the United States and I think that that’s pathetic,” Levy said. “Money is important but awareness creates a circle of support that no fight can be won without.”

The club also promotes outreach, Levy noted. Members have sung at a White Plains home for Alzheimer’s patients.

“There was one woman who really hadn’t said a word and then when I got up to sing a Sinatra song, she started to sing along and I couldn’t believe it,” said Levy.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with the degenerative brian disease. By 2050, that number is projected to be close to 14 million.

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