BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Hundreds of guests are expected to hear first hand about both the struggle and hopeful future of life with Alzheimer’s disease at the Alzheimer’s Association Reason To Hope brunch at Miami Shores Country Club on Tuesday, May 8th. They will gather to make a difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s, the nation’s largest under-funded public health crisis with 5.4 million diagnosed Americans and a $200 billion cost to the nation. Today, more than 240,000 South Florida residents have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s while thousands more go undetected. The event will be given by Alzheimer’s Association Southeast Florida Chapter, the local arm of the Alzheimer’s Association, the largest private funder of Alzheimer’s research in the world, and will feature three main speakers.
The first speaker will be Mary Shore, Senior Director, Chapter Relations at Alzheimer’s Association. She will discuss President Obama’s recent authorization of an additional 50 million to Alzheimer’s research and comment on how small that number is compared to the billions in research funding given to other diseases such as cancer and heart disease. She is quoted as saying “In the US alone, every 68 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s. It is a growing epidemic that there is still no way to prevent, cure, or slow down its progression. The cost to our country is staggering.”
Russ Belleville will be the second speaker. He was a former Coast Guard Officer, who became a corporate Executive for Siemans Corporation International. He had to give up his successful career when, at only 57 years old, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It quickly became clear that he could no longer perform his job because of this debilitating disease. He will discuss how his condition changed his life and the lives of his family members and how today, as an ambassador and advocate, he is helping others overcome the stigma of Alzheimer’s that often prevents people from seeking medical care when they begin to have early symptoms. Belleville implores others to get involved saying, “I recommend to all of you to become active in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease… Be part of the solution and not just part of the problem.”
The third speaker, Laura Jones, is the caregiver to her husband who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at just 50 years old in 2006. She plans to talk about the devastating emotions involved in losing someone so close to her little by little each day and how she is coping. For years, the couple used their time, resources and energy raising awareness in the public policy and advocacy arenas and were instrumental is getting the Social Security Administration Compassionate Allowances Act to include younger onset Alzheimer’s, allowing individuals under age 65 with the disease to receive benefits. She is quoted as saying “Our love has grown through our efforts to support each other in our devotion to carry this message. At first I stood beside him, slightly behind him, ready with a supporting touch as he spoke. Time passed and we began to face each other, searching each other’s eyes so I could speak for him, … Today, I stand alone as I have for each engagement I have attended over the last year. I speak not for him, but of him. I speak of his commitment to ending the havoc that Alzheimer’s is creating in our society.”
Jones is one of the more than one million caregivers in Florida, and 15 million unpaid caregivers nationwide. Together, these caregivers provide more than $13 billion and$200 billion in unpaid care each year, respectively.
The event is expected to raise both awareness and funding for the Alzheimer’s Association to continue in its mission to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.
The Alzheimer’s Association, Southeast Florida Chapter is a local 501 (c)3 organization committed to helping the families of Okeechobee, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. The Chapter advances efforts for researching a cure through fundraising and its signature event Walk to End Alzheimer’s™, and provides support and educational services to more than 200,000 persons with Alzheimer’s disease and their families and caregivers in its service area. It offers a 24-hour HELPLINE (800) 272-3900, support groups, Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch™, the Medic Alert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® identification bracelet program, Comfort Zone®, community education, and an advocacy program to educate Congress on critical Alzheimer’s policy issues and work to increase federal funding for research and care programs. The Association’s mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. As a national organization, Alzheimer’s Association is the largest private funder of Alzheimer’s research in the world. For more information or to make a donation, please call 1 (800) 861-7826 or visit www.alz.org/seflorida.