Maria Shriver urges Vancouverites to take action on dementia
March 8, 2017 – This past weekend, guests attended a private event with Maria Shriver, where she talked about what motivates her every day to grow awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Funds were raised in support of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and Shriver’s organization, The Women's Alzheimer's Movement.
The event was organized by long-time Alzheimer Society supporter, Leah O’Neill. “My passion for raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s disease started in 2007, when my father was diagnosed with the illness. In 2011 my dad passed away from the devastating disease that robbed him of his past and his future,” said O’Neill. “I vowed I never wanted to get Alzheimer’s disease or have anyone else I know get it. Research and development is so critically important at this time to find a cure.”
Left to right: John and Leah O’Neill, Dr. Haakon Nygaard, Maria Shriver, Maria Howard
Shriver discussed her connection to the disease and the current research she is most excited about. In particular, she said she is committed to raising awareness of the fact that Alzheimer’s disproportionately affects women. Shriver founded her organization The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and its annual event Move For Minds to raise awareness and funds for women-based research.
In light of the anticipated cost of dementia on countries and health-care systems worldwide, Shriver urged everyone to take action to reduce their own risk and to spread the word. “There is a role for all of us,” she said. “Whether you are a business owner, a mother, daughter, son or sibling, you can share awareness of dementia, donate to support the cause, or ask your elected official what they are going to do about it.”
Also at the event, Alzheimer Society Chief Executive Officer, Maria Howard, and Dr. Haakon Nygaard, Charles E. Fipke Professor of Alzheimer’s Research at UBC, announced the specific research project that will receive support as a direct result of the funds raised.
The project will develop a specific biomarker test, which is a diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s disease. The new test is being developed in the clinical lab at St Paul’s Hospital, in collaboration with neurologists at the Centre for Brain Health, in order to directly impact patient care. This research aims to expedite the quest for new therapeutics by helping ensure that the right populations are enrolled in clinical trials. Having a confident diagnosis also empowers people to access available resources and the opportunity to self-direct long-term care, social and financial planning.
“We are so grateful that Maria Shriver was able to share her passion for the cause – and for the impact that this event has had on raising awareness and raising funds,” said Howard. “We know that before there is a cure, there is care: ensuring that people living with the disease are welcomed, acknowledged and included, and that families affected by it are supported. This event has helped us provide and pursue both of these things.”
Visit our Research section to learn more about the different ways the Society supports dementia research in B.C. and across Canada.