RIDGEWOOD - A local man has been dubbed an Alzheimer's hero for his determined effort in fighting for a cure.

Scott Russell, 62, speaks to audiences all over the country spreading awareness of the disease, which causes a degenerative loss of memory and ability to communicate with others.

Russell was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's around three years ago. At first, he was in denial, but, with the support of the Connecticut Alzheimer's Association, Russell has become a guiding light by sharing his story with audiences.

He said that despite the ups and downs, a sense of humor and artistic imagination can really make a difference.

Russell has raised thousands of dollars for the association by selling stuffed animals he has dubbed "Alzi Animals." Russell purchases the animals from distributors, gives each one a custom paint job and sells them at various Alzheimer's functions. All of the proceeds go straight to Alzheimer's research.

Russell will be one of the thousands participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer's this fall in Norwalk.