Music Uplifts in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s

17-year old Hinsdale Central High School Senior Arya Chawla tells us why she participates in Team Up.

“I wanted to collaborate with my peers and other student leaders to create more awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, and also help in the Association’s fundraising initiatives. It was important for me to make a difference in our communities. My grandfather has been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for the past 5 years. I was very close to him, as he lived with us throughout my childhood. Now my grandfather lives in India and does not even recognize me or my family when we visit him. His condition has been very devastating for my family. I led a fundraising event called Music Uplifts. This was a music concert where I solicited over 10 professional musicians to perform music to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. I also worked with the Association to present an education session about Alzheimer’s Association during the concert. It was a well-attended event, and we raised over $3,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association. It is important for our youth to get involved in their communities, and to share their own experiences about Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is not just an “old people’s” disease. It affects the entire family in significant ways. Organizing the fundraising event definitely required time, effort, planning, organization, confidence, and leadership. I learned a lot throughout the process and gained valuable experience. Working with Team Up has been an amazing, positive experience for me. I learned so much about Alzheimer’s and the Association’s efforts to create more awareness for this disease, and solicit more support for its families. It was also great to collaborate with other students from the Chicagoland area to discuss everyone’s ideas for raising awareness in our communities, and for hosting fundraising activities. Finally, I also learned more about the costs associated with Alzheimer’s on our healthcare infrastructure. The Association was very helpful in providing many resources for me to learn about these costs. I also enjoyed learning about Alzheimer’s-related policy initiatives when I met with Congressman Roskam. All of this is a great experience as I aspire to study Public Policy in college next year. “

Team Up is a student-focused fundraiser designed to promote brain health, spread awareness and raise funds through student-coordinated events or activities. It is flexible enough to be an on-going effort or a one-time occurrence and aims to motivate young people to get involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

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TEAMing UP for a Cure

The Alzheimer’s Association® Illinois Chapter invites you to Team Up Against Alzheimer’s. This is a student-focused fundraiser designed to promote brain health, spread awareness and raise funds through student-coordinated events or activities. It is flexible enough to be an ongoing effort or a one-time occurrence and aims to motivate young people to get involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

Fenwick High School Senior Jamie McCarthy shares her story.

“Team Up is a small group of like-minded teens that put together their own annual fundraisers and volunteer within the association. We are all driven, innovative kids with the common goal of ending Alzheimer’s.

When I was a freshman, my mom was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Though it has been painful, this has pushed me to do as much as I can to raise money for a cure.

I host an annual fundraiser with my hockey team called “Shoot Down Alzheimer’s.’ We do a bake sale, raffle, and play a charity game with all benefits going to the Alzheimer’s Association. We have been very successful, raising nearly $20,000 in just two years.

Starting this fundraiser and spearheading the operation as a teenager has put me at an advantage against others my age. I have learned so much about myself and management, and I feel very prepared for a career. This benefits both the Team Up members ourselves and the cure to Alzheimer’s.

It takes dedication, intellect, and passion to start your own fundraiser. While it requires a lot of work to hold a successful event, people are always willing to help. With the appropriate qualities and support, starting a Team Up event is something any teen can do.

Overall, I think that Team Up has provided me with invaluable life skills and opportunities. Knowing that I am making a difference in people’s lives leaves a good taste in my mouth after each year of the fundraiser. My life would not be the same without it.”

                                                            –  Jamie McCarthy, Fenwick High School

To create your own Team Up Fundraiser,


Alzheimer’s Association National Early-Stage Advisor: Tom Doyle

Tom Doyle was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and secondary Parkinsonism in 2016 at age 63.

Tom completed degrees in education and counseling from Concordia University and the State University of New York at Brockport, and later received his Doctorate from Northern Illinois University while he worked as a principal of a Lutheran school in the Chicago area.

After receiving his Doctorate, Tom moved to California where he served as a professor of education at Concordia University Irvine and National University Los Angeles until the disease prompted his early retirement. Tom has three children from a previous marriage and four grandchildren. Fourteen years ago he met and married his husband, Levi.

During his final years as a college professor, Tom began experiencing challenges preparing and delivering the coursework to his students. Despite teaching the same courses for decades, Tom was forgetting details, struggling to find words, and losing his train of thought during lectures. His student evaluations reflected a change; after years of high marks, his feedback began to suffer.

Tom began to remove himself from university committees and workgroups, due to feelings of anxiety and inadequacy. During this time Tom was seeing a psychologist, who eventually raised his own concerns about Tom’s repetition and word loss. The psychologist suggested that Tom may have a “cognitive impairment,” and encouraged him to see a specialist.

At home, Levi observed that Tom was forgetting items around the house and would frequently repeat the same stories or questions. Initially, Levi thought that Tom was just becoming more forgetful, but assumed if Tom was still working he must be OK. Only later, did Levi discover the extent of Tom’s difficulties at work.

In 2015, Tom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and dementia. A year later after further cognitive testing and spinal tap his diagnosis was changed to Lewy body dementia, and eventually to Alzheimer’s.

Following his diagnosis, Tom says he entered a state of “extreme anxiety and depression, a downward spiral” which was exacerbated by the sudden loss of his job. On the very same day Tom disclosed his diagnosis to school administrators, he was told he did not have to come in again. He remembers: “One day I was employed and the next day I was retired and on disability.”

Tom credits ongoing therapy and strong support from his family and neurologist as critical coping mechanisms in the months following his diagnosis. His neurologist referred him to the Alzheimer’s Association, and Tom began attending a younger-onset support group. Soon, he was invited by his local chapter to share his story through media interviews and speeches.

Today, Tom and Levi are navigating the disease together. They have moved to a smaller apartment to be closer to Tom’s doctor. Tom has recently relinquished cooking duties and mourns the loss of life-long hobbies such as reading and researching. He still enjoys dinners with friends, church events, and work around the house. He and Levi recently welcomed a third member of the family — a therapy Basset Hound named Ellie May. “We take care of each other,” Tom says.

As a member of the Alzheimer’s Association 2018-2019 National Early-Stage Advisory Group, Tom wants to be seen as “an individual who has the disease but is not defined by the disease.” He hopes to raise awareness that that people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are productive and vibrant, with full lives. He also wants to stress the benefit of early detection and diagnosis.

“It’s important when you’re facing cognitive issues that you keep pushing for answers, so you know what you are dealing with,” Tom says.

Tom and his husband Levi live in Schaumburg, IL.