Attendees’ generosity makes fund-raiser winner

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Camilla Farrell

Living with Alzheimer’s by Camilla Farrell

It was a parade of hats and stylish outfits for the recent 2nd Annual Alzheimer’s Association Unforgettable Evening & Auction, a Kentucky Derby party, at the beautiful Quidnessett County Club in North Kingstown.

More than 150 attendees gathered to join in the festivities and raise more than $35,000 to support programs for Rhode Islanders facing the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Because of the generosity of the people in Rhode Island, we are better able to provide important services to Alzheimer’s families in the community,” said Donna McGowan, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Rhode Island Chapter.

There was something for everyone at the derby event. Attendees could pick their favorite horse watching a live broadcast of the “most exciting two minutes in sports at Churchill Downs;” listen or dance to the music of Brass Attack, one of Rhode Island’s favorite bands; and bid on more than 10 live auction and 65 silent auction items. There was even a hat contest that Joan Kent won for her homemade flower creation.Joan Kent

A very special “fund a program” live auction item was presented by master of ceremonies Tony Petrarca of WPRI-TV 12, McGowan and association Outreach Coordinator Annie Murphy. Each year the Alzheimer’s Association designates the Early Stage Social Engagement Program as an auction item to benefit the very important program that offers socialization for persons with early memory loss and respite for their care partners.

Auction proceeds fund free programs such as our 24/7 help line, counseling, education, training and advocacy. Donations for programs are always appreciated. Please save the first Saturday in May for our Derby Day event in 2015.

Our next big event is The Longest Day. Teams from around the world honor the strength, passion and endurance of those facing Alzheimer’s with a day of activity on the summer solstice, June 21.

Last year the Rhode Island Chapter participated by having a 16-hour bake sale. We started baking at 5 a.m. and sold our homemade goodies at Warwick Mall, stopping at 9 p.m. Then we celebrated at O’Brien’s Pub in Newport.

This year we are doing a sports memorabilia online auction. Visit our Web site at for more details. We have lots of options for the sports enthusiast and collector, including items such as team jerseys autographed by well-known athletes. You can create your own team. Just register at to get a fund-raising packet that includes instructional information and a T-shirt.

Do what you love, whether it is dancing, playing cards, running, swimming, or shopping; or honor your loved one by doing his or her favorite activity. Try to raise $100 per every hour of activity.

Plan your day by dividing the 16 hours into segments and keep in touch with your teammates with text messages, phone calls and tweets. At the end of 16 hours, gather your team and celebrate.

Camilla Farrell is development director of the Alzheimer’s Association Rhode Island Chapter in Providence. She can be reached at (401) 421-0008 or

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