27th Rita Hayworth gala raises $1.7 million to fight Alzheimer’s

The Event: Nearly 1000 attendees converged on the Hilton Chicago on May 10 to make a stand against Alzheimer’s disease at the 27th annual Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth gala. Founded by Princess Yasmin Aga Khan in honor of her mother, the actress Rita Hayworth who succumbed to Alzheimer’s late in life, the event has since raised in excess of $61 million dollars towards a cure.

Chaired by Fifi Levin of Highland Park, whose father is currently fighting the disease, and Karen Segal of Glencoe whose mother is afflicted, the evening also honored the MacLean Family of Lake Forest with the 2014 Civic Honor.

Cause Célèbre: “It’s very personal to me,” said Levin. “My father has it and I am hoping that my kids don’t have to do this one day; that future generations will not be impacted by this illness.”

Deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased 68 percent between 2000 and 2010, with 500,000 seniors dying each year of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Unfortunately at this point there is no treatment or cure for the disease and we need to fund research in order to (find one),” said Segal.

In addition, organizers encouraged all people, not just those already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, to participate in the current trial match. “Because the more well people we get participating in clinical trials, the better hopes we have of finding a cure,” said Segal.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. The association urges everyone to recognize June 21 as “The Longest Day,” and to “Go Purple” to show their support to end Alzheimer’s. See alz.org.

The association estimates that in 2013, more than 15 million family and friends provided nearly 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, care valued at $220.2 billion. Proceeds from the evening will go towards funding research geared specifically at determining how to turn the gene that causes Alzheimer’s on and off, and what triggers the disease.

Bottom Line: The event raised a record $1.7 million.

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