Sorority raises Alzheimer’s awareness

Kicking off the school year with the third annual Ultra Violet Week philanthropy event, the College’s Sigma Kappa sorority held a series of activities throughout the week to raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone is diagnosed with the debilitating disease every 68 seconds, and there is no way to reverse it. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with the disease and to keep the mind as healthy as possible.

Sigma Kappa’s Ultra Violet Week rallies over $1,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association. ( Nicole Ferrito / Staff Writer)

One of Sigma Kappa’s first events was a memory game show. Members of other organizations on campus were quizzed on their knowledge of ’90s television shows and music. They were also tested on the facts of Alzheimer’s.

Amy E. Matthews, the associate director of education and training at the Alzheimer’s Association, spoke on Thursday night on behalf of Sigma Kappa’s philanthropy event. She showed video clips of patients with the disease and their caregivers and discussed some of the main symptoms.

Matthews emphasized one common misconception of Alzheimer’s.

“Most importantly, dementia is not a disease — it’s just the symptoms,” she said. She also stressed the importance of getting a diagnosis as soon as symptoms occur.

The Alzheimer’s Association, which has a presence in 14 counties in New Jersey, helps not only the patients, but their families and caregivers as well, Matthews said.

Although there is no way to prevent the disease, there are many ways to keep a patient’s mind sharp.

“Take a different way to school. Make yourself think. Instead of writing down someone’s number, try and remember it,” Matthews said.

These exercises showed students first-hand the difficulties of the disease.

“I thought of how grateful I am that I can perform everyday tasks,” senior international studies major and member of Sigma Kappa Elizabeth Maricic said after the speech.

The sorority finished out its week with its second annual “Driving Out Alzheimer’s” Car Show. 35 participants from the surrounding community displayed their unique, novelty cars in Lot 4 at the College. Both students and town residents strolled through the lot, choosing their favorites.

“We felt it was a really good idea to bring in the campus community and the people outside of college,” said Michelle Rogoff, the sorority’s philanthropy chair and junior math, science and technology major. “Before I joined a sorority or even started this event, I didn’t realize how much awareness was needed for this disease.”

One participant, Bill Kraft, has shown his cars both years. When asked his connection to the sorority’s philanthropy, the owner of the 1955 Studebaker recalled the recent passing of his mother, who lost her life to Alzheimer’s.

Kraft won both the Sigma Kappa’s Choice award and the Most Memorable Car award at the show.

Walt Ludeke, associate director of the Alzheimer’s Association, spoke at the car show. He discussed some of the main responsibilities of the association, such as providing free consultation for families, early onset awareness classes, and organizing a summer camp for the children of patients with early onset Alzheimer’s.

“Keep on doing as much as you can, and you have no idea how much we appreciate it,” Ludeke said.

Throughout the week, members of Sigma Kappa sold purple ribbons, hair ties and elephant ribbons to raise money for Alzheimer’s awareness.

The girls explained that purple represented the color of the Alzheimer Association and the elephants represent memory.

“An elephant never forgets,” Sigma Kappa member and junior psychology major, Su Fen Lubitz said.

The sorority raised over $1,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association.