Where did Jonas Salk’s last dollar come from?

That question was posed by my friend Bill Englert.  It’s an intriguing question, isn’t it?  How much money did the cure for Polio cost and where did it come from?  And if Polio can be cured, why not Alzheimer’s?

If you don’t know the mind-numbing statistics, let me enlighten you.  Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. Of the top ten killers, Alzheimer’s is the only one not receding, and it has a 100% fatality rate. Unlike cancer or heart disease, there are no survivors of Alzheimer’s.  Alzheimer’s is expensive, probably costing the US more than 225 billion for 2015. As anyone that’s seen the movie “Still Alice”, Alzheimer’s is not a disease of the aged. If this isn’t enough, Alzheimer’s also tears families apart due to the burden of caring for a loved one with a rapidly failing memory.  I know all this first hand. I’ve seen it up close as Chef and Food & Beverage Director of two Continuing Care Retirement Communities; and I watched and listened as my mother succumbed in October of 2013.

Coast Busters in NC
Left to Right; Julian, Rene, Brian, Caroline, Kate, Myself, Emily, and Steven. Mark and Brian are missing from this photo.

With such enormous statistics and a dire need of funding, why on earth would I think that my efforts can make a dent in the needs of the Alzheimer’s Association? As Bill asked, where did Jonas Salk’s last dollar come from?  Which grant gave him just enough financial muscle to finish his polio-curing research?  And that’s why I do this; no donation to the SC A/A is insignificant.

The Alzheimer’s Association does not provide huge grants to fund research, they create the mechanism for those grants to reach the right facility and they fund outreach, training, and support for families.  Think of the A/A as the funnel for the bottle.  In South Carolina there are A/A offices in every county, and each provides help to beleaguered families, care givers, and care facilities as well as a political arm in the legislature.  And that’s where the Ride to Remember comes in.  Conceived by another cycling chef, Scott Roark, the RTR is a three-day ride across the state.  As riders, we raise money for the South Carolina Alzheimer’s Association.  This year the association’s overall goal is $200,000, and we hope to exceed that.

So on Friday morning, July 17th, I’ll climb onto my bike and along with my teammates from The Coast Busters, spend three days pedaling to Charleston.  Along the way, we’ll dream that perhaps the money we raise will create that ripple in the pond that will fund a cure for Alzheimer’s.  Because if we don’t try, we’ll never find out.

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