ALEXANDRA DWEK'S FRIENDS WITH CAUSES
SHINES A LIGHT ON ALZHEIMER'S
|Patti Davis and Kate Edelman Johnson|
"When my father first got sick there was no place I could go for information on Alzheimer's. I couldn't find support groups; there was no one to talk to. People AND hospitals don't really like to talk about it. They think Alzheimer's is a dirty little secret. A while back a major hospital in Los Angeles I was working with for a period of time told me that they don't try very hard at all to even seek donations for Alzheimer's because it 'isn't sexy.' Can you believe that?"
Well, Patti decided to take matters into her own hands and founded Beyond Alzheimer's, a support group for the families and loved ones of those with the disease. Wonderful St. John's Hospital is working with her by providing space and experts to talk to her group. Patti has personally been leading a support group every Tuesday and Thursday for years. After losing her father she has chosen to devote her life to helping. I was extremely impressed with the remarkable woman she is.
"My father had Alzheimer's, but his soul did not. I always had a feeling he was 'in there,' and I was right. When he started getting really sick, his blue eyes turned gray and vacant. They were that way for years. Just before he died, my mother and I were sitting on the bed. Suddenly he opened them and looked right at her. His eyes were back to that bright blue and he looked completely conscious and clear the way he did before he got sick. He was absolutely present to say good bye to my mother. I was right. His soul was there all along," said Patti.
But to be successful in keeping a charity going, you need a special angel. When Patti lost the funding of the prior hospital she was with, in stepped Kate Edelman Johnson, whose husband, Deane F. Johnson, also died of the disease.
"My husband was chairman of O'Melveny & Myers, a director of Time-Warner, president of the Pittsburgh Pirates, a trustee of AFI and Cal Tech, and served on many boards. It was heartbreaking watching him be robbed of his life. I am determined to do everything I can to fund research to end this terrible disease. I created a foundation in his name, and when I heard about what Patti was doing I had to help," said Johnson, fighting back tears.
"Alzheimer's devastates families, and another subject people don't talk enough about is caregivers. My sister has been diagnosed now with the disease, and I'm going through it all over again. Fortunately, my husband's caregiver, Anne McEvoy, is taking care of my sister, too. She's here tonight and is one of the most incredible people Ive ever known."
We all started applauding, many of us with tears in our eyes. It was a very moving evening. This is what makes Friends with Causes so great. We get up close and personal with the hands-on people making these private, personal fights to make this a better world.
|Caregiver Anne McEvoy and Katy Strouk|
|Vanessa Sandin, Donna Antebi, Me, Barbara Grant Jaynes|
|Lisa Jarien and Joyce Arad|
|Leslie McMorrow and Heidi Johnson|
|Hope Smith and Megan Aubrey|
|Meg Thomas, Alison Bette (standing) and Linda Jensen|