This is Our Time gala aimed at eliminating Alzheimer’s

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 130 views 

ROGERS — A Tuesday night — May Day at that — was as good a time as any for a fundraising gala.

Alzheimer's Association officials and their supporters gathered May 1 at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center for its annual “memory” gala, this one dubbed This is Our Time. Proceeds were split between Arkansas and Oklahoma, states that make up one of 70 Alzheimers chapters nationwide. The association’s goal is to create a “world without Alzheimer's.”

“We are here to put ourselves out of business!” declared Mark Fried, CEO of the Oklahoma and Arkansas Chapter.

It seems the group has its work cut out for it.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with some 5.4 million Americans suffering from this debilitating disease. About 60,000 cases have been diagnosed in Arkansas.

The May 1 gala began with a pre-party of sorts, an intimate cocktail hour where members of the association’s leadership council mingled with attendees who purchased raffle tickets for extravagant jewelry and travel packages.

Some who attended the gala, such as Delores Wynn, have been affected first-hand by the disease and were seeking others who had similar experiences. She had lost one parent to the Alzheimers recently, and the other has been diagnosed with it.

“The information provided by the organization is wonderful and it’s great associating with other people who are going through the same things,” she shared through her tears.

“The difficulty with Alzheimer's is that it is a personal disease. You lose your loved one twice, first when they forget your name and then when they pass away,” said Jenna Schario, the association’s communications and awareness manager.

Cocktails were followed by dinner, then a live auction that included offerings such as a tickets and airfare to the 2013 Grammy Awards and an insider’s tour of a Napa Valley winery of the bidder’s choice.

All agreed that the 18 sponsors made a difference in the gala’s outcome.

Karen Parker, senior manager for the Walmart Foundation, boasted, “We are so proud to partner with such a wonderful organization and we are so lucky to have a chapter for our area.”

All of the services provided by the Oklahoma and Arkansas Chapter are free to those in need. The association provides support groups, newsletters, family counseling, educational forums, a n around-the-clock help line and support research aimed at the prevention and cure of the disease. More information about donating and support can be found here.