Athletes and Actors Urge Americans to Get Help, Share Tributes, Support the Cause
NEW YORK, Dec. 7, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Building on the awareness raising of Alzheimer's disease from the Alzheimer's Foundation of America's (AFA) successful "Together for Care" telethon last weekend, more leading celebrities are speaking out about the brain disorder and urging Americans to take advantage of as well as support programs and services nationwide.
Among them are two N.F.L. players who have experienced Alzheimer's disease in their own families: Kirk Morrison of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kellen Winslow, Jr. of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Calls to action by these two athletes and more than a dozen actors and musicians are now posted on AFA's Web site—www.alzfdn.org. The Web site also features the complete one-hour telecast of the "Together for Care" telethon and additional songs by the show's musical performers—Kris Allen, Brett Eldredge, Shontelle and Wilson Phillips. The Wilson Phillips trio, who recently reunited to record their first-ever holiday CD, share the CD's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" on the Web site.
Marking the nation's first-ever telethon for Alzheimer's disease, AFA's star-studded "Together for Care" event made its debut on local NBC stations in 16 major markets on December 4.
"With this telethon, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America has successfully begun to change the face of Alzheimer's disease," said Eric J. Hall, AFA's president and CEO. "Our message that it is time to lift the veil off Alzheimer's disease has struck a chord with people across the country. They've been reaching out to AFA for help and donating to support the cause—and they have been infused with a new sense of hope."
In his call to action, actor Louis Gossett, Jr., points out that caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease is a 24/7 responsibility—and "it's hard." He urges people to contact AFA to obtain "desperately needed support and assistance. Get help, or please, please, donate if you can."
Winslow and his wife, Janelle, have focused their message on wandering—a problem that hit home when Janelle's dad went missing for three long days last year. Luckily, her 69-year-old dad, Enrique "Henry" Guzman, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease three years ago, was found safe and sound.
The football player said he wanted to be part of the telethon in order to raise awareness and "give the people with this disease and their families a voice."
"There are so many challenges caregivers face, like wandering, confusion, aggression and violence. But the message I would send to relatives of loved ones with Alzheimer's disease is not to give up on your relative, fight the disease with them. Hold on to all the memories you had when they were well," Winslow said.
For his message, Morrison chose to pay a heartfelt tribute to his grandmother, who he recently lost to Alzheimer's disease. "I think about all the times that we had together…and how I loved her," he said.
Other celebrities rallying behind the cause are Nate Berkus, Shawn Colvin, Ellen DeGeneres, Catherine Dent, The Doctors, Morgan Freeman, Naomi Judd, Sarah Lancaster, Mario Lopez, Shirley Jones, The Rockettes, Rob Thomas and Donald Trump.
Hosted by Al Roker of the "Today" show and led by actor Hector Elizondo, AFA's honorary celebrity chairman, the show includes appearances by Scott Adsit, Lidia Bastianich, Joy Bauer, Nikki Blonsky, Katrina Bowden, Grizz Chapman, Hope Dworaczyk, Jill Eikenberg, Elmo, Steve Guttenberg, Carl Lewis, Natalie Morales, Michael Tucker and Wendy Williams. Shontelle sings her Billboard hit, "Impossible"; Kris Allen, winner of American Idol season 8, performs an acoustic version of his hit, "Live Like We're Dying"; Wilson Phillips performs their legendary single, "Hold On"; and emerging country artist Brett Eldredge sings his powerful Top 40 single "Raymond," which was inspired by his own grandmother's memory loss.
AFA is encouraging the public to visit its Web site to view the telethon and related content, as well as to learn more about the disease and available resources. In addition, following Morrison's lead, the public can post tributes to their own loved ones by sharing stories on the Alzheimer's Foundation of America's Facebook discussion page.
The public can still support the telethon by making a donation, participating in AFA's online auction and buying telethon-related merchandise. For more information or to donate, visit www.alzfdn.org or call toll-free 866-232-8484.
Currently, an estimated 5.1 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia. The incidence is expected to skyrocket as the nation's population ages. Advanced age is the greatest known risk factor for the disease, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual function, and is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York whose mission is to provide optimal care and services to individuals with dementia, and their families. It unites more than 1,400 member organizations that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional and practical needs of families in their local communities. AFA's services include a toll-free hot line, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine, and professional training. For information, call 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
SOURCE Alzheimer's Foundation of America