Alzheimer's Foundation of America
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 5, 2008

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America to Display ‘Quilt to Remember’ in San Francisco

Actor Hector Elizondo to Submit Panel to Memorialize his Mother

NEW YORK, NY—As Suzanne Hastings progressed into the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, she became increasingly quiet. Yet, when her daughter, Judy Hastings of Cotati, CA, decided to select one main color to portray her mother in a quilt she is making in her memory for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) Quilt to Remember, the obvious choice was hot pink.

The color symbolizes her mother’s vibrant personality prior to her illness, and the hot pink thread will be used to stitch together fabric and old photographs that show her personality shining through on family vacations and in activities with her grandchildren.

“This means the world to us. The whole idea is to honor her memory by sharing memories of when she was young and vibrant and strong,” Hastings said.

She is putting the finishing touches on the panel now, planning to complete it in time for the display of the AFA Quilt to Remember at Union Square in San Francisco on September 19 and 20. The thought-provoking initiative is the nation’s first grand-scale quilt that pays tribute to those who had or have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, their caregivers or healthcare professionals.

The powerful display will include the entire collection of more than 100 creative panels that have been crafted by individuals and organizations across America. The exhibit, at Geary and Stockton Streets, will begin on September 19 with an opening ceremony at 11 a.m, and continue to 5 p.m.; on September 20, the display will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Also expected among the newest quilts will be one that award-winning actor Hector Elizondo plans to present to AFA at its 3 rd National Concepts in Care Conference at The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco on September 18. Elizondo’s heartfelt quilt panel memorializes his mother, Carmen Reyes Elizondo, who had Alzheimer’s disease.

With these latest contributions, AFA will be two quilt panels closer to its goal: This past June, AFA challenged people across America to patch together their own stories of loved ones in order to multiply the quilt’s size six-fold by adding another 500 panels by November 2009, National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. The “Quilt to Remember Challenge” comes in response to the disease’s climb to the number six spot in leading causes of death in the United States.

The San Francisco display will be the fourth stop of the 2008 tour of the AFA Quilt to Remember. The goals of the moving tribute include educating the public and highlighting the enormity and reality of the disease in an unprecedented way.

“As the AFA Quilt to Remember continues its journey to different cities, it promises to bring recognition to those touched by the disease and hope to their caregivers and families. There’s a sense of empowerment in celebrating the lives of their loved ones through this creative outlet,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer.

The panels contributed by individuals measure four feet square and those submitted by organizations span eight feet square. They are a blend of tributes, both memorializing those who have passed and honoring those living with the disease.

Hastings’ quilt panel, for example, will do both. While she is making the panel in memory of her mother, who passed away in July 2006, the quilt’s corner squares will honor her aunt, Marjorie Courshan, who is currently living with Alzheimer’s disease.

San Francisco resident De’Anna Castro will have her poignant panel in tribute to her grandmother, Delia Sierra, among the panels on display in her home city. Castro said she is proud that her grandmother’s exemplary way of life and spirit can now be captured forever through the AFA Quilt to Remember.

In a letter from Sierra’s family that accompanied the quilt, they wrote, “She taught us kindness with her tenderness, charity with her giving, the importance of an education by reading to us and a feeling of belonging that only the love of a mother can give.”

Following San Francisco, the AFA Quilt to Remember will be displayed at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City on November 5 to 7. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is the presenting sponsor of the 2007-2008 tour; UPS is the transportation sponsor. For more information, visit www.alzquilt.org or call 866-AFA-8484.

Currently, an estimated five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and the incidence is expected to triple by mid-century. In California, it is projected that nearly half a million people aged 65 and older will have the brain disorder by 2010. Age is the greatest risk factor for the disease, which primarily strikes those 65 and older.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York and made up of 950 member organizations that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses. AFA’s services include a toll-free hot line, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine, and professional training. For information, call (toll-free) 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484