FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | August 11, 2006
NEW YORK , NY—Ten-year-old Shivani Inala of Edison, NJ could have been spending her summer at the beach or playing with her friends. Instead, she has been busily doing research to prepare display boards, crafting collection boxes, and recruiting volunteers—all to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease.
Her hard work will show this weekend when she and several of her peers stand outside Wal-Mart on Centennial Ave. in Piscataway to talk about Alzheimer's disease and to alert the community about resources available through the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing optimal care to those with the disease and their families.
The youngsters will also be collecting funds for AFA, using paper collection boxes that Shivani creatively designed with photos from AFA's Web site. Contributions will support AFA's care-focused programs and services across the country.
Shivani, a sixth grader, takes her mission very seriously: She was recently selected as an honorary member of the advisory board of AFA Teens, a division of AFA that educates and supports teenagers and engages them in the cause.
AFA Teens was started by Neha Chauhan of Staten Island, now a Harvard University student who had taken action after doing a research project about Alzheimer's disease in high school. AFA Teens chapters now are being formed around the country; for information, visit www.afateens.org .
Recently, Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer, was taken by Shivani's passion and drive when she visited AFA's headquarters in New York City.
“Even at such a young age, Shivani recognizes how important it is to bring the disease into the open. She understands the true meaning of care,” Hall said.
The youngster's interest in the cause piqued when her 68-year-old grandmother visited from India last year; her grandmother, like an estimated 5 million people in the United States and 18 million worldwide, has some symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. The brain disorder results in loss of memory, confusion and other intellectual decline; it is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
“It made me very sad to see my grandmother like that. It makes me want to help out really much,” Shivani said in a soft-spoken voice.
She decided to approach Wal-Mart as part of her desire “to involve more people.”
“I want to raise some money for people with Alzheimer's to take care of them,” the 10-year-old explained.
Wal-Mart enthusiastically gave Shivani the go-ahead.
“It's a worthwhile organization...For someone to take the initiative to do something like this really impressed us,” said Sandra Sachs, the community involvement coordinator at the Piscataway store.
Shivani plans to continue her efforts with various activities during the school year, including awareness-raising events in her school and residential complex, visiting senior care centers, and encouraging more teens to join AFA Teens.The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is made up of hundreds of member organizations nationwide that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families. AFA's services include a toll-free hotline, counseling, bilingual educational materials, and a free caregiver magazine. For information, call (Toll-Free Helpline) 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org .
Contact: Carol Steinberg
Alzheimer's Foundation of America 866.232.8484