Since 2008, we have led an effort to support Alzheimer’s research. Alzheimer's has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.
To raise funds and awareness to help find a cure.
Art 4 Alzheimer’s: Art from the Heart to benefit Alzheimer’s patients and their families!
What We've Achieved
“An Ardmore father and daughter raise funds with art exhibit to fight Alzheimer's”
“Preserving memories on canvas: Ardmore teen takes creative steps to fight Alzheimer's”
Preserving memories on canvas: Ardmore teen takes creative steps to fight Alzheimer's
HAVERFORD -- Shirina Braun will always remember her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Kavanaugh Doyle, for the person she was before she developed Alzheimer's disease.
Affectionately known as "Mambi," Doyle had been a happy, fun-loving grandmother who came over for Sunday dinners, helped with birthday parties, and joined Shirina, her mother, Meghan, and twin sister, Aiyana, for weekly lunch dates at their favorite diner.
The 13-year-old Ardmore teen also remembers how Mambi treasured Shirina's earliest artwork. Each new finger painting or crayon creation -- and there were many -- won praise and a prominent place on Mambi's kitchen fridge.
But Shirina remembers, too, when her grandmother began to change. Mambi missed lunch dates without explanation and gradually lost the ability to drive a car, communicate and perform tasks as simple as holding a glass of water.
"When you were talking to her, you got the sense she wasn't really there. She was just nodding her head, without really understanding," Shirina said. "That was the hard part."
Mambi succumbed to Alzheimer's in 2007, after an eight-year struggle with the irreversible and progressive brain disease.
With Alzheimer's currently afflicting more than 5 million Americans, Shirina felt she had to act.
"I did not want to see anyone else suffer like my grandmother did," Shirina said. "I thought, 'what can I do to make a difference? What can I do to prevent the grief my family went through?' It was a very tough time."
Shirina thought about how much Mambi loved her pictures. "After she passed away, I missed that."
So Shirina decided to continue making art for her grandmother in a way that would also raise funds to support Alzheimer's research. She calls the project Art 4 Alzheimer's.
Still passionate about painting, Shirina photographs images of her work and prints them on note cards. Shirina markets the cards with envelopes in bundles of three, tied with raffia, via an Internet website and personal network of family, friends and teachers.
To date, the project has reached the halfway mark toward Shirina's goal of raising $1,000 to benefit the Alzheimer's Association.
One of the cards depicts a fanciful, multi-media fish Shirina made before Mambi's illness. A later image features a red rose and large green leaf against a mauve background. A few drops of paint run down from the flower onto the canvas.
Shirina said she was trying to paint a pretty picture when she "was kind of emotional" because she was thinking of her grandmother.
"I was frustrated because it wasn't turning out the way I wanted. So I left to take a breather, and when I came back, the paint started running at the bottom. I started thinking it was kind of sad looking at that. I thought it was kind of perfect for how I was feeling. So we decided to print it the way it was."
Shirina's note-card collection for 2011 features photos from nature. "I went around the neighborhood with my camera and took pictures I thought were inspiring and beautiful. I took mostly flowers and nature," Shirina said.
It's not surprising that Shirina found hope and healing through art. Her father, Shimon Braun, is a Polish-born painter, dancer/choreographer and former gymnastic champion who survived the Nazi occupation as a child. Shirina said she loved watching her father paint in his studio when she was small.
Both Meghan and Shimon say they were deeply touched by their daughters' response to their grandmother's plight.
"They grew up with the whole process. When she started to deteriorate, they started to grow in understanding. They remained dedicated and did whatever they could to connect and be with her," said Shimon.
Shirina said she hopes to someday start a real foundation to fund research and support services for families of Alzheimer's patients. Until then, her note cards are available at www.art4alzheimers.com.
For more information about Alzheimer's disease: www.alz.org.
~Lois Puglionesi, Jan 21, 2011 Daily Times