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Rockin’ Out Alzheimer’s goes independent
New foundation to give to state association, but also local efforts
2017 Rockin' Out Alzheimer's
The 2017 Rockin' Out Alzheimer's concert at Georgia Southern University's Performing Arts Center, a fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association, featured Tony Kishman in "Live and Let Die: A Tribute to Paul McCartney." - photo by Special

After raising about $350,000 for the Alzheimer's Association over the past six years with Rockin' Out Alzheimer's concerts and other events, Statesboro-based volunteers are creating a new organization, the Rockin' Out Alzheimer's Disease Foundation.

That will be the ROAD Foundation for short. Chandler Dennard, executive director of Willow Pond Senior Care, is slated to serve as chief executive officer of the foundation, while Darron Burnette, divisional CEO of banking company Synovus, will be the charitable group's chief financial officer. 

"We will still support the Alzheimer's Association of Coastal Georgia, but with a change in leadership that they've had at the state level, they are no longer supporting third-party events," Burnette explained.

In the past, local volunteers could simply collect money through their events and send it to the association, which took care of the record keeping, he said. Now, that will need to be done at the local level, and in creating the new foundation, Burnette and Dennard said, organizers wanted to keep part of the money here to support Alzheimer's education efforts, caregivers and scholarships for nursing students specializing in geriatric care.

"No more than half of our proceeds will go to (the association), and the other portion will stay locally to try to help either with nursing or caregiving in the region, not only in Statesboro but in the surrounding counties," Burnette said.

Individuals can direct some money to the new organization just by showing up during an open house June 28 at Lewis Color's expanded printing and mailing facility.

Rockin' on

The name Rockin' Out Alzheimer's comes from the series of spring concerts held to culminate fundraising drives. The most recent concert, featuring the band Yacht Rock Schooner at Georgia Southern University's Performing Arts Center in March, raised $80,000 for the Alzheimer's Association, Burnette reported.

Some of the same volunteers put together the Striking Out Alzheimer's softball tournaments, but these have been discontinued after the one last July. It raised about $25,000, he said.

With the foundation, organizers intend to focus on the concerts but have also heard from people interested in starting an Alzheimer's benefit run in the fall, and will consider it, he said.

As an example of how the funds could be distributed, Burnette said that from an $80,000 event, $35,000 might go to the Alzheimer's Association, $35,000 to Alzheimer's education and caregiver support and $10,000 to the scholarship fund. The proposed scholarships would be for Georgia Southern University nursing students in a gerontology program.

Burnette's mother suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and after she died in 2012, friends and business associates helped launch the softball tournament and concerts in memory of her. One of those friends, involved early on, was Dennard.

Need is increasing

Before becoming executive director at Willow Pond Senior Care, Dennard had a 20-year career as a basketball coach, softball coach and athletic director, most recently at Bulloch Academy, where he also served as assistant head of school. His efforts as an Alzheimer's volunteer helped him land the job at Willow Pond, where his interest in Alzheimer's care is now professional. 

Trends suggest that more research, more caregivers and more medical professionals specializing in treatment of Alzheimer's will all be needed in the future.

"If you look at the numbers of Alzheimer's patients over the next decade, they're going to almost double, just based on our population in the United States," Dennard said. "So there's going to be a lot more need for this type care, and right now there's no cure, and they still really don't even know what causes it."

DX Print & Mail

Lewis Color President Tommy Lewis has also been named to the proposed ROAD Foundation board of directors, and Lewis Color has pledged to donate $5 to the new foundation for every person who signs in during the company's June 28 open house.

That day the company, which retains that name Lewis Color as a wholesale printer with customers from coast to coast, will be celebrating its new "DX Print & Mail Powered by Lewis Color" branding for services to local and regional retail customers.

The 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. open house, at the printing plant in the industrial park behind Ogeechee Technical College, will double as the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce's Midday Mingle. This event will feature lunch by Chicken Salad Chick and tours of the expanded printing and mailing facilities, said Janet Anderson, Lewis Color's marketing director.

The company's owners wanted to associate the event with a charity and see the ROAD Foundation as a very worthy cause, Tommy Lewis said. He had aunts and uncles with the disease, friends' parents have had it, and now his father-in-law does, Lewis said. 

"I think most people now know someone or have some connection in their family to someone that has Alzheimer's," he said.

Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

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