FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | OCTOBER 21, 2003
Alzheimer's Foundation of America Sponsors National Candle Lighting; Americans Will Light Flames of Hope for Millions Impacted by Alzheimer's
NEW YORK, NY – In recognition of National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, Americans will light flames of hope in ceremonies across the country on November 13 to remember deceased loved ones, and to honor and strengthen the estimated five million individuals and their families currently coping with Alzheimer's disease.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) is sponsoring the inaugural National Commemorative Candle Lighting in collaboration with local organizations from coast-to-coast. This unique event gives individuals touched by Alzheimer's and related dementias the opportunity to unite in spirit and solidarity at multiple services throughout the U.S. on the same day.
And it mirrors President Ronald Reagan's intent when he first declared an observance in recognition of Alzheimer's disease two decades ago—to, in part, “show understanding and support for the individuals and the families and friends of those who are affected.” Since, subsequent administrations, including President George W. Bush, have proclaimed November as National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.
President Reagan is among those currently suffering from the incurable brain disorder, which robs individuals of memory and eventually overall mental and physical function, and is the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S. Projections call for a tripling in the number of cases by mid-century.
“Our hope is that this powerful event will shed light on the magnitude of Alzheimer's disease, as well as comfort and strengthen these courageous families and energize them to embrace the hands-on care that is available to improve their quality of life,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer.
AFA itself will host the Candle Lighting Ceremony in Manhattan, at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, at the corner of Fifth Ave. and W. 53rd St., starting at 7 p.m.
The inspirational service will feature Leeza Gibbons, TV and radio personality and founder of The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation, who will share her family's experience with Alzheimer's and her vision for the education and empowerment of caregivers and the recently diagnosed.
“This event gives members of the Alzheimer's community a wonderful setting in which they can join hands and gain hope. It's so vital for patients and caregivers to know that they are not alone,” Gibbons said.
The interfaith service, which will pay tribute to individuals who have suffered or are suffering from the disease, and their caregivers, will also include lighting flames of hope; a reading of names in memory and recognition; participation by various religious leaders; and nondenominational songs by the prestigious Saint Thomas Choir. A Book of Remembrance will be on display at the church throughout November so that individuals can inscribe the names of their loved ones.
Elsewhere throughout the U.S., AFA member organizations and other groups focusing on dementia care will host similar gatherings at various venues. For example, in Okaloosa County, FL, Elder Services of Okaloosa County will illuminate a park and the grounds of two adult congregate care facilities and a nursing home/Alzheimer's facility; in Shaker Heights, OH, the residents of Sunrise Senior Living's Reminiscence and assisted living units will plant spring bulbs in a morning ceremony by the community's gazebo; and in Bellingham, WA, the Alzheimer Society of Washington will hold a late afternoon service at the Bellingham Ferry Terminal that will include a candle lighting, speakers, music and a recital of names in commemoration and remembrance.
Noted Hall: “Long after the flames burn out on November 13, local Alzheimer's organizations stand ready to help lighten the burden of this heartbreaking disease. While we anxiously await a cure, we encourage the public to take advantage of the wealth of care that exists in their communities, and to join AFA in championing the case for funding for more services that will make a difference.”
To find out about local candle lighting ceremonies or to make a donation to AFA in an individual's honor or memory, visit www.alzheimerscandlelighting.com or call 866-AFA-8484.
In addition to the National Commemorative Candle Lighting, AFA will host other events during National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, including its first National Memory Screening Day on November 18.
AFA, a Manhattan-based nonprofit organization, advocates for “care in addition to cure” on the national front, and collaborates with member organizations nationwide on innovative programs that provide educational and social services to those with dementia and their families. For more information, visit www.alzfdn.org or call 866-AFA-8484.
Contact: Carol Steinberg