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Rotary Happenings: CART vice president speaks about Alzheimer’s
August 20, 2019

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In past years, our Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club presidents have championed specific Rotary causes that they have found a purposeful connection with. Immediate President John Danner advocated for the Wheelchair Foundation and was part of the core group of San-Cap Rotarians that organized a new club fundraiser last year "Wheels for Wheels," which raised over $25,000 for the Rotary Wheelchair Foundation. This year's president, Eldon Bohrofen, has chosen to find a way of taking on raising funds for contribution to the Rotary Clubs of North America CART Trust Fund for Alzheimer's research.

Although this financial driver for Alzheimer's research is still called CART/Coins for Alzheimer's Research Trust, the effort has expanded its potential for accepting funding for Alzheimer's research in any form of financial giving to the cause.

Bohrofen recently invited Rotarian Dr. Gary Goforth, medical director for the Shell Point Retirement Community and CART vice president for research grants, to speak to the club on the topic of Alzheimer's. Before Goforth started speaking, he asked club members to raise their hand if they knew anyone who had Alzheimer's. As you would expect, almost everyone raised their hand. The fact is in 2014 there were 5.6 million people diagnosed with Alzheimer's and by 2025 estimates are that 7.1 million people will have the same diagnosis.

What is Alzheimer's disease? It is a brain failure. A progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys brain cells and affects a person's memory, ability to learn, make judgements, communicate and carry out basic daily activities. It is a progressive, fatal disease without a cause that has no cure.

Millions and millions of dollars are going into researching how to pinpoint the pre-dementia stages of Alzheimer's and, for now, how to slow the process down. There are thousands of Alzheimer's research studies focused on epidemiology and pathology of the disease. The Rotary CART fund is specifically aimed at awarding Alzheimer's study grants to doctors across the nation who are formulating new research ideas and studies in this area alone. In 2019, CART disbursed a total of $1 million in grants for five Alzheimer's research projects. One hundred percent of all donations received by Rotary CART goes directly for funding Alzheimer's studies.

The old proverb "Great oaks from little acorns grow" is so true as it applies to the Rotary CART program. Who could have imagined that back in 1995 an idea of Sumter, South Carolina, Rotarians Roger Ackerman and Dr. Jack Bevan that encouraged club members to empty their pockets and purses of change at weekly meetings for the cause to cure Alzheimer's would grow and be adopted by Rotary Clubs across North America, resulting in providing $1 million of Alzheimer's research money this year. Details on the grants can be found at cartfund.org.

"Our club a few years back participated by having a blue can on each table so that members could toss coins into the cans as CART donations," Bohrofen said. "As your president, I initiated the fund raiser as a Happy Bucks option last year when I lost my late wife, Judy, from dementia. Through a challenge of matching donations by myself, we raised over $3,000 last year. I have great passion for CART and have proposed, with the help of Rotarians in our club and other clubs in our district, we will have a major fund raiser later this Rotary year for CART."

Stay tuned for information on the fundraiser as planning has just started.

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are welcome to attend.

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