Alzheimer’s disease is a rapidly growing concern for the U.S. health care system. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leading voluntary support base for Alzheimer’s research and coping, the estimated cost of the disease in America will be $200 billion this year. Out of that figure, $140 billion will come from Medicare and Medicaid. By 2050, the cost could increase by nearly 500 per cent.
Jeffrey Morby, a seasonal resident of the Vineyard and cofounder of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, knows the statistics and is at the forefront of efforts to accelerate the pace of research on the debilitating disease that now affects some 5.4 million Americans and their families.
Mr. Morby brought his project to the Vineyard in July 2010 when he delivered a presentation to the Martha’s Vineyard Rotary Club at one of their lunch meetings at the Ocean View Restaurant in Oak Bluffs.
Dee Lander, president of the Martha’s Vineyard Rotary Club, said the presentation instantly hit home. “Jeff asked anyone who has not been somehow affected by Alzheimer’s to raise a hand. Basically, not a hand in the room went up,” he said.
And apart from slides and statistics, what Mr. Morby brought to the club on Martha’s Vineyard that day was the spark of an idea — a possible new Rotary International worldwide cause. Since 1985, Rotary International has focused its efforts on eradicating polio worldwide, an effort that has been nearly a complete success.
Now Mr. Morby and members of the Vineyard Rotary chapter are actively involved in putting the effort to cure Alzheimer’s on the Rotary International agenda. A group that included Mr. Morby and Dr. Rudy Tanzi, a volunteer with the Cure Alzheimer’s’ Research Consortium, traveled to Bankok, Thailand, in May to present the idea. Mr. Lander said the group presentation was well received, and he cited Rotary’s impressive and extensive network, with 1.214 million members and 34,154 clubs worldwide.
On the local stage, the Rotary Club of Martha’s Vineyard is hosting an event with Emmy Award-winning comedian Tim Conway this weekend to raise funds for the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund and a small group of local nonprofits. The event includes a meet-and-greet with Mr. Conway tonight from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Boathouse in Edgartown. The show will be Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $100 for the entire event including the meet and greet, and $20 for the concert only. Tickets may be purchased at the Edgartown National Bank, Martha’s Vineyard Boys’ and Girls’ Club, the Second Hand Store in Edgartown, the YMCA Teen Center, the Vineyard Power Office and the high school performing arts box office.