Her childhood is passing her by. She’s given up being on her school’s soccer team. Since finances are tight, she didn’t have a Quincenera. And to help cover the expenses of taking care of her grandmother, she gave up her Christmas and birthday presents. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. Deziree Bedolla, a 16 year-old high school student from Garden Grove who cares for her grandmother with Alzheimer’s, was one of several caregivers honored recently as a Caregiver Honoree by Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County.
The Seventh Annual Visionary Women Luncheon hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County drew 287 guests and supporters June 14th honoring outstanding caregivers and scientists dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia. Proceeds from the event, held at Rancho Las Lomas in Silverado, will benefit programs and services offered free of charge to local families impacted by Alzheimer’s.
“Each year, women and men are recognized for their exemplary care of individuals with Alzheimer’s. Some are professional caregivers, and others are family members thrust into this emotionally and physically challenging role,” said Jim McAleer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County. “All are deserving individuals rarely recognized for their accomplishments.”
Caregivers honored at the luncheon included:
• Medical Professional: Jane Mahakian, Ph.D., MFT of San Clemente, Aging Matters, Inc., San Clemente
• Administrative Professional: Aileen Sherman of Tustin, Irvine Cottages Memory Care, Dana Point
• Professional Caregiver: Stephanie Giekes, Comfort Keepers of Anaheim, Anaheim
• Family Caregiver: Dolores Estrella of Buena Park; Josefina Ortiz of Riverside
• Youth Caregiver: Deziree Bedolla of Garden Grove.
This year’s luncheon also honored individuals fighting Alzheimer’s through the organization’s “Science and Research Awards,” presenting a select group of scientific minds with research grants for seeking answers to the mystery of Alzheimer’s. This year’s winners included:
• Researcher: Pinar Coskum, M.D. - Assistant Project Scientist, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, UCI MIND (Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders) -$1,500 travel stipend and registration for the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Boston on July, 13 18, 2013
• Post Doctoral Honoree: Giselle Fazzioni Passos - Post-Doctoral Instructor, UCI MIND (Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders) -$1,500 travel stipend and registration for the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Boston on July, 13 18, 2013
• Graduate Student Honoree - Maria Torres - UCI MIND (Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders) - $500 cash scholarship
• Undergraduate Student Honoree: Haley Dunn - Biological Sciences, UCI - $500 cash scholarship
• High School Student Honoree: Alana Porat - University High School, Irvine, sophomore - $500 cash scholarship
• High School Student Honoree: Kelly Burk - St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, San Juan Capistrano, Junior - $500 cash scholarship
“This event has become a vital part of raising awareness for Alzheimer’s disease here in Orange County, as we honor these dedicated individuals,” said Kirsten Mangers, Chair of Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County Board of Directors. “Caregiver honorees have been nominated by a diverse group of individuals and organizations and each one has a touching story. Sadly, the incidence of Alzheimer’s is rising, not declining and that’s why we are all working so hard to raise money to provide care and fund research.”
The event also included an appearance by Rita Moreno, one of the only entertainers to win an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony.
Leading the efforts to raise support for Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County was the Visionary Women Leadership Circle made up of members Julia Argyros, Jacqueline Dupont, Susan Johnson, Kirsten Mangers, and Diane Mondini. Sponsors of the event were Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary, Farmers & Merchants Bank, First American Trust, Hoag Hospital and Vivante on the Coast.
About Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County Chapter
The Alzheimer's Association (alz.org/oc) is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Since 1982, Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County Chapter has been providing programs and services, free of charge, to Orange County residents with Alzheimer’s and related disorders, their families, caregivers, and the community. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative illness that weakens the memory and other cognitive and emotional functions. For more information, call the 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900, or visit the website.