By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: Health & Fitness | Issue: March 2010
Fayenelle Helm, honorary co-chair of the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Gala, stands by the artwork of an Alzheimer’s patient.
Alzheimer’s disease is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s is a degenerative cognitive disease, symptoms of which include gradual losses in memory and thinking and reasoning skills. It can place an enormous burden on caregivers, and it is one of society’s costliest diseases. Thus far, it is incurable.
The Alzheimer’s Association Oklahoma and Arkansas Chapter is working to change all this, through the advancement of research, the providing of care and support for those affected, and the promotion of brain health.
The 15th annual Alzheimer’s Association Memory Gala is Thursday, March 25, and this is an opportunity for you to be a part of the solution to Alzheimer’s. “We’ll have a lovely dinner and live and silent auctions,” says Fayenelle Helm, one of the Alzheimer’s Association’s volunteer committee members and Memory Gala honorary co-chair. “This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and one of the three biggest fundraisers in Tulsa. Our goal is to raise over a $600,000, and to have over 600 people attend.” This year’s theme is “The Journey,” and the event is promised to be “an undertaking like no one’s seen before.”
Proceeds from this event fund the Alzheimer’s Association’s programs and services, all of which are offered to the community at no charge. These include their helpline, care consultation, support groups, information services, training and more.
“Raising awareness of Alzheimer’s is so important because more and more people are getting the disease,” says Helm. “Every 70 seconds, somebody in America gets it. And the expense is so great because the care is so difficult and so extensive to provide.”
Early diagnosis is vital to the treatment and management of Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association offers ten warning signs of dementia: memory challenges that disrupt daily life, challenges in planning or solving problems, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, new problems with words in speaking or writing, misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps, decreased or poor judgment, withdrawal from work or social activities, and changes in mood or personality. If you notice any of these in a friend or family member, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages you to see a doctor promptly.
The Memory Gala’s celebrity honorary chair this year is actress Jeanne Tripplehorn. Other chairs for this event include Bryan Close, Connie and Jeff Cope, Fayenelle and Jay Helm, Jackie Kouri and Gary Paxton, Kristin and Jim Bender, Erin and John Peters, Terry Hood, Leigh Ann and Frank Fore, Tina and Bubba Cunningham, Julie Kivisto, Diane Powell, and Terrie McMillan.
In addition to financial support, the Alzheimer’s Association always needs volunteers. There are many capacities in which you can serve, including event setup, clerical assistance, and providing respite care. “We have over 500 volunteers, many of whom have a personal connection to Alzheimer’s. They’re passionate,” says Helm. “You don’t want it to happen to you, or to your kids or your family.”
The 15th annual Alzheimer’s Association Memory Gala is Thursday, March 25 at 6 p.m. at the Tulsa Convention Center Ballroom. Tickets are available for groups and individuals. For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association, visit www.alz.org/alzokar.