Alzheimer’s has become the 21st century’s most stealthy disease. It doesn’t happen suddenly with a rash or an ache. Initially it might be written off as just normal forgetfulness. But then it transcends to less and less brain awareness.
And it effects are not limited to just the patient. It touches their family and friends, both emotionally and financially.
Lee “The Six Million Dollar Man” Majors knows all too well having witnessed his mother’s progression into the deeper world of mental awareness. Lee was at the 2019 Aware Affair on Friday, April 5, at Sixty Five Hundred to raise funds for Dallas Aware‘s group of nonprofits supporting those suffering from Alzheimer’s and their families and caretakers. Here’s a report from the field:
AWARE Affair “Celebrate the Moments” – Blooms of Hope Gala Co-Chairs Ginny Bond Fein and Sarah B. Smith took the gala to a deeply personal level, one that infused life into the party and truly was an inspired celebration of love and friendship, hope and joy.
Sarah’s mother, nicknamed “Beauty” by her family, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s years ago and Sarah has penned a book titled “Broken Beauty, Piecing Together Lives Shattered by Early-Onset Alzheimer’s,” which has been a top seller on Amazon both in Dementia and Religious categories.
Even more revealing is the personal story of Beauty and Ginny’s mom, Ginny Bond, who were besties in college as Kilgore Rangerettes, which is an American precision dance team from Kilgore College in Kilgores. Their daughters are best friends, as well.
“There was no question about who I wanted to chair this gala with me,” Sarah said. “Ginny and I grew up together and have experienced this journey with my mother together. Her support and the support of all of our friends, means the world to us both.”
Ginny agreed saying, “This fight to end Alzheimer’s is very personal to both of us as we walk alongside and fight for Sarah’s mother, Rebecca ‘Beauty’ Bearden. From our hearts, we thank everyone for helping to make a difference and being a voice for the millions of people suffering from this devastating disease.”
AWARE is a Dallas-based charity founded in 1989 that has donated over $12,750,000 toward its mission of fighting Alzheimer’s disease by providing funding and support to programs, projects, and research provided by nonprofit organizations and public entities that actively help all individuals affected by Alzheimer’s disease in Dallas and the greater north Texas area.
Guests mingled and enjoyed signature cocktails Katy Trail Vodka’s Katy Garden Spritzer, Roxor Artisan Gin’s Blooming Gin and Tonic and Tequila Partida’s Raspberry Spritz. Bidding was competitive on the fabulous silent auction items accompanied by musicians from DSQ Electric. AWARE President, Sharon Ballew welcomed the crowd and introduced The Reverend Nicole Bates from Westminster Presbyterian Church for the invocation.
Co-Chairs Ginny and Sarah welcomed everyone thanking underwriters, including Stephanie and Bennie Bray and Dr. and Mrs. Samuel J. Chantilis, in loving memory of Mrs. Frances B. Chantilis; Lydia and Bill Addy, Gail and Bill Plummer, Venise and Larry Stuart and the Hoglund Foundation and more.
A delicious three-course dinner included a first course of baby kale with roasted beets, crumbled chevre; second course of airline chicken with kalamata olive tomato relish and saffron risotto paired with rosemary beef skewer with demi-glace and citrus asparagus, finished off with individual dessert plates of spring lemon cheesecake and chocolate mousse with raspberry garnish.
Crystal commemorative gifts were presented to Honorary Co-Chairs Ellen Terry with her daughter Amy Terry Kriegel and son, Todd Terry. Ginny shared the story of her mother’s friendship with Rebecca Bearden and announced honorees: Honoring in Love Rebecca “Beauty” Bearden from her family David M. Bearden, Sr., David M. Bearden Jr., Sarah Bearden Smith and Gabriel English Bearden #BeautyinAlzheimers.
The Amy Osler Spirit of Education Leadership Award was presented by Honorary Co-Chairs Emeritus Amy and Greg Osler to Stacey Jones Angel. Amy Osler, AWARE’s Spirit of Education Leader, is the namesake of the Amy Osler Spirit of Education Leadership Award. She became involved with AWARE a few years ago shortly after she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Amy has used her public speaking background and her story to help bring about awareness of this horrible disease. The award is given to an AWARE member who has demonstrated a high level of leadership in educating members and the general public about AWARE, its mission and Alzheimer’s disease.
Grateful acknowledgment was also given to the Myrna D. Schlegel/AWARE Scholarship Fund, which for over two decades has awarded scholarships to nursing students from Baylor and Texas Women’s University to further their studies in the field of gerontology, especially dementia. Recognizing Myrna’s passion for nursing and elder care, AWARE established the Myrna D. Schlegel/AWARE Scholarship fund in 1999 in her honor.
Some seen in the crowd Charlie Angel, Maurice Ballew, Janet and Jack Broyles, Mark Fein, Beth and Ron Hall, Jolie and Bart Humphrey, Faith and Lee Majors, Honorary Chair Emeritus Kim McDavid, Holly Miori, Evelyn Ponder, Penny Reid and Thomas Nolan, Billie Lee Rippey, Thad Smith, Carol Stabler, Venise and Larry Stuart, Sharon Walker and more.
After a spirited live auction which included Honorary Co-Chair Emeritus David McDavid Jr. auctioning off his second purple jacket with last year’s purple jacket winner Randall Barnes alongside him to Bart Humphrey, who purchased one jacket and another sold to Pat Crow – purple being the signature color representing Alzheimer’s awareness – guests finalized their silent auction bids and danced the night away to tunes spun by DJ Andre 7.
Special thanks was also given to Patron Party hosts Joan and Stephen Smith for opening up their wonderful home to underwriters just a few days earlier; Kick-Off Party hosts Tavia and Clark Hunt; and Progressive Shopping Hosts and Partners Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet, Lounge 31, Madison, Sprinkles and Theory.
- Texas Winds Musical Outreach: Support for the Concerts for Seniors program, which provides two concerts by professional musicians in each of 95 nursing homes and adult day care facilities serving individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias as well as the economically disadvantaged.
- Juliette Fowler Communities: Support for training, implementation, and certification of the “I’m Still Here” program, a national model that provides a person-centered approach to caring for persons with Alzheimer’s through social engagement, new learning experiences, community service, and volunteerism. The program ensures that unique skills and interests are incorporated into each patient’s day so that experiences are fulfilling.
- C. Young: Funds to support a board-certified music therapist who will engage with the Memory Care residents for 30 minutes to one hour a day, every day, seven days a week, while becoming familiar with each resident and selecting music on an individual basis according to their preferences.
- Dallas Museum of Art: Support for teaching honorariums, supplies, and staffing for Meaningful Moments, a program designed to provide participants with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their families or caregivers with ways to engage in art providing a continuing cultural opportunity to everyone regardless of their ability.
- The Senior Source: Support for the Senior Companions program matching trained volunteers with individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their families needing assistance with meals, errands, and light housekeeping providing caregivers with respite and/or time to work outside the home.
- Center for Brain Health: Support for the second year of Studying Sleep Architecture in Early Stage Alzheimer’s Disease to better understand how sleep impacts cognitive health in aging individuals and what role it may play in cognitive impairment. Results from this three year study could motivate the formulation of better, more multifunctional interventions to slow or halt the progression of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease.
- Dallas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association: Funds to support the hire of the Dallas Chapter’s Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator. This individual will develop a Hispanic Outreach manual and program called “Get the Facts” directly dedicated to meeting the needs of the underserved and often mono-lingual Dallas Hispanic community. The program will use existing partnerships with Telemundo and Univision television stations to help raise awareness and drive attendance to education and support group opportunities.
- Jewish Family Service: Support for the salary of a three-quarter-time licensed Clinical Social Worker to provide in-home mental health counseling, care management, and daily living support services to 50 older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and 20 family members and caregivers allowing patients to remain independent and living in their own home.
- Center for Vital Longevity: Support for the salary of Chris Foster, Ph.D, currently working under Dr. Karen Rodrigue, enabling him to continue the second year of a three-year study of biomarker-based risk factors for healthy aging from data collected by the lab from a sample of 200 adults ranging in age from 20-94 years old who are recruited from the Dallas community.
- Baylor Healthcare System: Salary support for the Baylor AT&T Memory Center to provide a trained care and support specialist onsite at the Baylor AT&T Memory Center. By placing this valuable service at the point of care, patients and their families in early diagnosis can receive disease education, caregiver skill training and support groups, elder law and financial planning, and a 24/7 helpline allowing physicians to focus on the medical issues surrounding the disease.
Beverage sponsors are Katy Trail Vodka, Partida Tequila, Peroni ROXOR Artisan Gin, The Macallan.
Media Sponsors are PaperCity Magazine, The Park Cities News/The Waters Family, MySweetCharity, and Downtown Business News.
* Photo credit: Dana Driensky ** Photo credit: Rob Wythe/Gittings