Cover Stories

Fund a Cure: Alzheimer’s Association

For now, there is no prevention, no treatment and no cure, even though Alzheimer’s is a global health crisis and 5.4 million Americans have the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association—the world’s leading voluntary health organization—currently funds research in 22 countries around the globe. “This disease defines our generation,” says Brenda Stewart, vice president of development for the association’s St. Louis chapter. That’s why the group receives such wide support. One of its largest annual fundraisers, Affair to Remember, takes place March 25 at The Chase Park Plaza. Last year, the gala raised $455,000; this year’s goal, says Stewart, is $500,000, which would allow the association to meet its goals for the year. All proceeds go toward programs and services for families, and fund the essential research being done at institutions like Washington University and Saint Louis University schools of medicine.

Stewart says many of the people involved in this year’s gala have been touched personally by the disease in one way or another. Master of ceremonies (and KMOX personality) Carol Daniel’s mother has it, and co-chair Ken Aston has dealt with it. “My wife Lori and I are involved because we wanted to give back to the organization that was there for our family when my father was first diagnosed,” Aston says. Fellow co-chairs Randy and Ann Lipton have had personal experience with Alzheimer’s, as well.

OFC-alzheimers-1.25“Because of its duration (anywhere from eight to 20 years), this is an illness that really takes a toll on families,” Stewart explains. “And if you consider that more than 5 million people have the disease, that’s at least 15 million affected when you include caregivers.”

This year’s Affair to Remember will have an elegant movie theme. “We’re excited,” says events manager Debbie Eldridge, who paints a picture of spotlights and runways, cocktails and music. The auctions, too, will have an aura of elegance with such items as sports memorabilia, jewelry and fun event packages among the silent auction, and trips to Paris, Aspen and other glamorous spots featured in the live auction titled Fund the Mission. Eldridge and Stewart credit the corporate support from Edward Jones, Emerson, Ameren and Centene Corporation for much of the fundraising success.

Stewart says this important event, along with the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, plays a vital role in providing the St. Louis community with essential services like Care Consultation. The one-on-one assistance helps families better understand the disease, manage care and make more informed decisions regarding services and treatments. “We try to promote early intervention and help people draw up a plan to navigate what can be a very painful journey,” Stewart explains. “This is the No. 1 service we provide.”

Lipton adds, “Alzheimer’s is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. The programs, services and research that the Alzheimer’s Association supports will give us a fighting chance to change that.” A helpline (800.272.3900) offers advice and answers questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Pictured: Master of Ceremonies Carol Daniel of KMOX
Photo: Bill Barrett

The Alzheimer’s Association’s annual gala, Affair to Remember, takes place March 25 at The Chase Park Plaza’s Khorassan Ballroom. Pictured on the cover: Co-chairs Randy and Ann Lipton and Lori and Ken Aston. For tickets and information, call 314.801.0412.

Cover design by Allie Bronsky | Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography