Dr. Rick Lyon, a longtime Wilton resident and retired dentist, doesn’t remember his friends anymore. He suffers from frontal lobe dementia, which impairs speech, memory and movement and is often lumped together with Alzheimer’s because of the similarity in the dementias. But Lyon’s friends at Silver Spring Country Club, where he was an avid tennis player and golfer and a very active member, haven’t forgotten him. In a giant effort to raise awareness and money for research, members held A Round to Remember in his honor.
A Round to Remember is a grass-roots program that empowers golfers to lead the way in changing the course of Alzheimer’s and other dementias with the goal of educating people about the disease through volunteer organized golf outings.
“We took a baby step on May 16 in raising the awareness of the pervasiveness of this disease which effects one in eight seniors in the state of Connecticut. That number is expected to grow to one in six in the next 10 years,” said Paul Sullivan of Wilton who, along with his wife, Barbara and friends Bob and Madeleine Louzan, also of Wilton, spearheaded the event.
Silver Spring members along with family and friends raised $42,500 to date with nearly all the proceeds designated for the Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut Chapter. Silver Spring Country Club in Ridgefield is close to the Wilton border and draws much of its membership from surrounding towns, including Wilton.
“I don’t think we have had one of these events that has been so successful,” said Leslie Hinshaw, director of volunteer development and supporter events. “Fund-raisers like this at Silver Spring help us get one step closer to finding a treatment or a cure. It gives us hope.”
In Connecticut alone 73,000 people 65 and older suffer from Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to grow. The cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated at $226 billion nationwide. That does not include the price paid physically, emotionally and economically by unpaid caregivers who logged in a whopping 201,000,000 hours in 2014 in Connecticut alone.
“Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most sorely underfunded diseases in terms of research dollars and yet there are over five million people in the U.S. suffering from this disease. We’ve got lots more to do,” Sullivan said.
Lyon’s wife, Gail, also of Wilton, said there were some very heartfelt moments for her and her family who attended the Silver Spring event. A video, which started with a moving clip from the movie, Still Alice, depicted Lyon as a vibrant man engaged with his children and grandchildren. The video ended with a clip of him today, wheelchair bound, unable to communicate and ravaged by dementia.
“I really wish Rick could know what wonderful friends he has,” his wife said.
For more information or to contribute in honor of Dr. Rick Lyon, contact: Leslie Hinshaw, director, Volunteer Development and Supporter Events, 607 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851; 860-830-6981 or 24/7 Helpline: 800-272-3900.