Reason to Hope Co-Chair: Marty Wilke

My relationship with the Alzheimer’s Association began in 2010. I was invited to attend the very first Reason to Hope luncheon in Chicago, honoring WGN Radio legend, Wally Phillips and his family.  At the time, I was the General Manager of WGN-TV and attended as both a representative of the WGN/Tribune family and my own family – as my Dad, Cliff had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This Reason to Hope luncheon was where I first learned of the critical mission of the Alzheimer’s Association and how they were working to provide resources, education and hope to families affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.  I left that very first Reason to Hope luncheon newly inspired and hopeful for the future, for families like mine.

I was also impressed by the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the luncheon – in just one hour, Reason to Hope had changed my view of Alzheimer’s and inspired me to become a bigger part of the mission.  I knew immediately that Reason To Hope was an event and an experience that I wanted to share with others in order to do my part to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s. 

In 2011, I became a Reason to Hope Table Host and invited friends and family to join me. The following year, 2012, I chaired the Reason to Hope Chicago luncheon and shared my Dad’s story with the Reason to Hope community. I have and will continue to support Reason to Hope through the years as a Table Host.  Last year in 2019 and now again in 2020, I am proud to be Co-Chair of the Reason to Hope Chicago luncheon.

The first time I attended Reason to Hope it was clear that I was now a part of a bigger community through the Alzheimer’s Association. Through the years I have seen Reason to Hope grow through the dedication and expanding roster of Reason to Hope Table Hosts.

When our Table Hosts invite their friends, family, co-workers, colleagues – they help create and grow this community within Reason To Hope – a community that shares the common goal of a world without Alzheimer’s.

In addition to Reason to Hope, I have embarked on several other endeavors as a part of my fight against Alzheimer’s. I have participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Chicago with my family in honor of my Dad and his caregivers.  I also participated in the Alzheimer’s Association family forum education program, and caregiver support groups. As a representative of the Illinois Broadcasters Association I have partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association to promote the Silver Search program to protect endangered missing persons through a state wide awareness campaign.  I currently serve on the Silver Search Task Force and have most recently joined Illinois Women Conquer ALZ.

What gives me a reason to hope is the mission and strategy of the Alzheimer’s Association. As the world’s leading voluntary health organization, funding Alzheimer’s care, support, advocacy and research gives me HOPE!

I have benefited from the Alzheimer’s Association mission, I have embraced the mission, and will continue to participate in the mission by raising awareness and funds to help achieve the goal of a world without Alzheimer’s!

If you want to become a part of the fight against Alzheimer’s, join us at our virtual Reason to Hope event on Tuesday, November 10 at 12 p.m. CT! Learn about the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association and embrace the Reason to Hope community. 

Or if you cannot join us this year, go online and donate to the Alzheimer’s Association Reason to Hope.

Register for Reason to Hope

Unforgettable Art Artist Spotlight: Randy and Rhya Reed

The health and safety of our volunteers, staff and all of our constituents are our top priority as we continue to pursue our mission. Given the evolving nature of COVID-19 and based on the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC, Unforgettable Art originally planned for April 25 will be rescheduled.

Unforgettable Art is an annual event put on by the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter. A lively evening filled with creativity, artists convert blank canvases into beautiful works of art in front of your eyes. Featuring live music, appetizers and drinks, there is no shortage of entertainment making this evening truly unforgettable. The artists donate their time and talents for this event, ending with a live auction of all artwork. Proceeds benefit research, advocacy and resources for those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. To showcase these wonderful and dedicated creators we are featuring two Unforgettable Artist Spotlights, father-daughter duo Randy and Rhya Reed!

Randy and Rhya Reed are a father-daughter artistic duo who will be creating live work for this year’s Unforgettable Art. Randy has been with the event for all seventeen years, making him a veteran of the event. The two have crossed over many mediums in their artistic careers, including painting on wood, canvas, glass, drawing, and even tattoos. 

Randy’s inspiration stemmed from watching his father draw when he was young. “Life in art started when I was a kid and would watch my dad draw horses and cars with circles. I picked up a pencil and just started creating, and drawing on everything.” Randy’s imagination was fed by his desire to create something different across mediums, a trait he passed down to his daughter Rhya. 

Randy’s artwork continues to vary over the years as he draws inspiration from new and different observations. From paintings in black and white to undersea mammals with mermaids alongside them, Randy’s creative inspiration knows no limits. He has also worked in portraiture, airbrushing, caricatures, murals, and he even painted the background for Jane the Dinosaur at the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, IL. “I guess my specialty is to keep people guessing.”

Rhya’s artistic career initiated the same way her father’s did- through watching him create. She would observe as he painted or drew, every time creating something new and different. She started drawing small comics, which developed into tattoo design using markers and colored pencils. “When I was about eighteen my dad bought me my first set of brushes and canvases so I could express my creativity in a new way. I couldn’t be more thankful for having that push to continue my art.” 

Randy and Rhya’s connection to Unforgettable Art emanates from their beloved Grandmother and Stepmother, Joyce Reed. Joyce was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several years ago and the family has had to adjust to properly caring for and supporting such a beautiful and loving soul. Art has helped them to honor her- “Art has become a big part of me because it was there during dark times in my life,” says Rhya. Not only does their participation in Unforgettable Art allow them to convey their experience through creation, it also directly supports research, advocacy, and care for those affected by Alzheimer’s. 

Get tickets to Unforgettable Art here

Unforgettable Art New Artist Spotlight: Devan

The health and safety of our volunteers, staff and all of our constituents are our top priority as we continue to pursue our mission. Given the evolving nature of COVID-19 and based on the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC, Unforgettable Art originally planned for April 25 will be rescheduled.

Unforgettable Art is an annual event put on by the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter. A lively evening filled with creativity, artists convert blank canvases into beautiful works of art in front of your eyes. Featuring live music, appetizers and drinks, there is no shortage of entertainment making this evening truly unforgettable. The artists donate their time and talents for this event, ending with a live auction of all artwork. Proceeds benefit research, advocacy and resources for those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. To showcase these wonderful and dedicated creators we are featuring our first NEW Unforgettable Artist Spotlight!

“My name is Devan and I am a self-taught artist who specializes in marker art. My art is inspired by the textures of Van Gogh, the style of Dr. Suess, and the colors of Peter Max. I combine the style of these famous artists to create a unique style of my own. I primarily use Sharpies but also have branched out to using Prisma and Copic markers too. I use the markers in a way that I have yet to see another artist do, I carefully layer and time my creating process to create one of a kind textures. I use these textures to make everything from ethereal nature scenes, beautiful women, and one of a kind cartoons. 

“Void Vixen”

I have been a professional artist for 10 years. My love for markers started when I began my career as an artist. I wanted to do something different based on my favorite artist Van Gogh, so I came up with the idea of creating textures with markers. I started taking commissions at 17 years old, wrote and illustrated a children’s book when I was 20 years old (this book is still not seen by the public), and started my first online store at the age of 21. During this time I spent countless hours practicing with the markers, slowly teaching myself new textures. I also taught myself how to draw 150 different animals; everything from different species of cats, dogs, and birds to exotic animals like alligators, giraffes, and sloths.

I decided to participate in Unforgettable Art: An Affair for Alzheimer’s because I wanted to give back to the community. I decided a few years ago when I first started doing art shows to find a way to use my art to give back to the community at least once or twice a year. My family and friends are always looking out for new opportunities for me to showcase my art. One of my parents found this event and while it specifically asked for painters, I applied anyway. I have a few family members that suffer from this disease so it means a lot to me that I was accepted. 

“Typical Tuesday”

While my art is my main focus I do find time to enjoy some hobbies. I like to consider myself a hippie, so I enjoy going on nature walks when the weather allows, usually I take my cat Punkin. Punkin is my best friend and has been my rock through my ups and downs of dealing with depression and anxiety. I have also been able to deal with my mental illnesses through my love for live music, I’ve seen over 50 bands/musicians, each time dealing with the crowds gets easier. I also love to hang out with my two best friends, we are always finding something fun to do, even if it’s just some good food and great conversation. I live a pretty simple life for the most part – just enjoying all the little things and making beautiful art.”

We are beyond thrilled to have Devan on board as one of our new artists this year. Find more information and images of Devan’s work below: 

Devan’s website

Devan on Facebook and Instagram: @devantheartist

Email: devantheartist@yahoo.com

Tickets to Unforgettable Art

Unforgettable Art Artist Spotlight: Todd Lorenc

The health and safety of our volunteers, staff and all of our constituents are our top priority as we continue to pursue our mission. Given the evolving nature of COVID-19 and based on the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC, Unforgettable Art originally planned for April 25 will be rescheduled.

Unforgettable Art is an annual event put on by the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter. A lively evening filled with creativity, artists convert blank canvases into beautiful works of art in front of your eyes. Featuring live music, appetizers and drinks, there is no shortage of entertainment making this evening truly unforgettable. The artists donate their time and talents for this event, ending with a live auction of all artwork. Proceeds benefit research, advocacy and resources for those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.  To showcase these wonderful and dedicated creators we are featuring another Unforgettable Artist Spotlight – Todd Lorenc.

Already an avid cartoonist, Todd began painting in high school. He attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, where he received his associate’s degree in commercial art and illustration. As a freelance artist, Todd focuses on music-themed paintings as well as music itself as a form of artistic expression- on his ukulele! Todd uses Instagram to showcase his work and Youtube for all things musical. You can check out his work here

A veteran Unforgettable Artist since its inception year, Todd has been making live art for the event dating back to 2003, as well as providing ukulele performances to open the night. He originally learned of the event through Hobby Lobby, and after little convincing decided to participate in honor of his late grandmother Emma Paluzzi Lorenc who had Alzheimer’s disease. 

To see more of Todd’s work, follow him on Instagram @toddlorencukulelemusic

Tickets to Unforgettable Art

Junior Board New Member Spotlight: Marisa Breese

Marisa Breese is one of the Junior Board’s newest members who worked to help put on their largest annual event, Paint the Night Purple. The evening was packed with activities- from appetizers and an open bar, live music, silent auction, raffles, and dancing! This night was a huge success and helps inform the Junior Board on ideas for next year’s event.

Marisa works in Public Relations for an agency in Chicago, has a 5-year-old Shepherd Collie mix named Harlow, and is a PADI certified open water scuba diver. When she isn’t spending time with her friends, playing volleyball, or traveling, Marisa is an active volunteer for the Junior Board. 

“Hi, I’m Marisa! I first started volunteering alongside the Junior Board in February 2019 after looking up ways to get involved with advocacy and fundraising efforts related to Alzheimer’s. On my first outing with the Junior Board, we visited Sunrise Lincoln Park – a senior living community that specializes in memory care. We chatted casually with the residents, and another Junior Board member brought art supplies to create Valentine’s Day cards. Even though we were there for only a short time, I really enjoyed being able to have a positive impact on the residents.

I was inspired to find a group like this because I felt a personal connection to the cause. My maternal grandmother, Margot Gardiner (Gramma to me)  is currently living with the disease. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017. At the time, there were only hints of the disease – she would misplace items or forget conversations. Treatment has helped keep the disease somewhat under control, but I still see a difference in her mannerisms and how she interacts with our family now. She’s always been the best grandparent – she used to be an amazing cook and seamstress, and she and my Papa (who’s taken on new roles to care for her) still try to attend every choir show, dance recital, sporting event, etc. that my cousins and I have been part of. It’s definitely been difficult for us to watch her gradually change, though, because of this awful disease. Her diagnosis is what prompted me to get involved with the Junior Board.

 I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Junior Board over the past year. In the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting other young professionals who all have a connection to this terrible disease, so we’re all very passionate about making an impact. So far, I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer several times at Sunrise Lincoln Park and once at Memory Rock Chicago (an annual fundraising event), and I joined the Junior Board’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s team this past October.

I was so excited to officially attend our Paint the Night Purple gala for the first time this year! I worked at the coat check as a volunteer last year, so this year was a chance to spend time with friends, family, and fellow Junior Board members at the event.”

Interested in our Junior Board? To submit an application, visit here.