By Tony Lopez

MODESTO (CBS13) — Steven Barbieri of Modesto is in the battle of his life. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the fit, athletic 59-year-old, but he’s fighting the devastating disease known as early-onset dementia.

“I was in denial,” Steven said. “Like a lot of people when you get the diagnosis. I didn’t say anything to anybody for the first year.”

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That was eight years ago. Today, Steven is determined to battle back. He’s in two clinical trials and his disease seems to be on “pause.”

The husband and father of three said, “I didn’t put my life on pause. I always tell everybody I hit my life and put fast forward. So go out and do those things that you do.”

How Steven was diagnosed was a complicated process. But he knew something was wrong when he stopped remembering the simple things.

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“I’d get on a two-hour conference call, I’d hang up the phone, literally I’d turn around and five minutes later, that call was gone,” Steven said.

Gone, as in forgotten. To Steven, incidents and faces became straws impossible to grasp. One gut-wrenching moment came when he couldn’t recognize his wife of more than 20 years.

Steven grew emotional as he told us, “We ended up getting to the store and my wife was standing at the front of this store and I walked in thinking she was a greeter, and she said hi, and I said hi and I walked right past her like a deer in a headlight.”

Today, there are more good days than bad. This Saturday, September 28th, will be a good one. Steven will speak and take part in the Northern California Walk to End Alzheimer’s. CBS13 is the proud media sponsor of the event. It starts at 9 a.m. at Raley Field in West Sacramento.

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CBS13’s Tony Lopez will be emceeing the event. We invite you to come out and take part to help raise money to find a cure for this devastating disease.