Karen Cyphers, blog contributor and consummate Florida policy wonk, dedicates much of her time to a cause close to her heart: Alzheimer’s disease awareness and research.
This Sunday, Karen’s advocacy will take shape through a benefit concert featuring Peter Yarrow, folk singer icon of Peter, Paul and Mary.
Coming to Tallahassee at the invitation of Karen’s father, Yarrow’s show will benefit the Tallahassee-based Alzheimer’s Project, Inc., a non-profit that provides free services to caregivers and the community.
Karen’s dad, at 64, already has early stage Alzheimer’s. And his father died from Alzheimer’s when Karen was in high school.
Sadly, their story is not unique. About a half a million Floridians currently live with Alzheimer’s. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and one in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. It has no known treatments or cures.
“My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and before I was even out of denial about the whole thing, he was on a mission to help others,” Karen says. “He wants to bring a voice to the millions of people who suffer with the disease in silence, feeling the stigma, fears and embarrassment of it. The longer we let Alzheimer’s live in the shadows, the longer it will take for lawmakers and researchers to focus their energies toward a cure.”
In part, the concert is also a thank you to Florida leaders who have been working to elevate funding for Alzheimer’s supports and research. Bills by Rep. Matt Hudson and Sen. Garrett Richter will be heard during the 2014 legislative session, along with efforts to provide greater resources to caregivers within their communities.
In the Big Bend area alone, the Alzheimer’s Project works with hundreds of families, and the need is only growing.
“Every family that the Alzheimer’s Project touches is a family that can more easily remain living together,” Karen says. “It’s remarkable how many people they reach through their services, and I can tell you firsthand that what they offer is life-changing.”
But why Peter Yarrow, why folk music, as the avenue to raise awareness?
“I listened to Peter Paul & Mary with my parents, sang folk songs camp, and grew up feeling like wherever their music were playing, I was home,” Karen explained. “Folk music tells a story and reaches people, and Peter’s voice with the Alzheimer’s cause will do just that.”
Join Karen, her family, and the Alzheimer’s Project on Sunday, Feb. 23 at The Moon by visiting www.moonevents.com for tickets.
Doors open at 6:00 p.m. The show will begin at 6: 45 p.m. with a kid’s sing-along followed by a full show and a VIP reception. Kids ages 2-10 free. Babysitting provided at no charge.