By Princess Yasmin Aga Khan| October 1, 2008 |
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Joy and Regis Philbin; Carolina Herrera; Princess Yasmin Aga Khan and Dennis Basso.
WHEN MY MOTHER, RITA HAYWORTH, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1981, it was both devastating and a relief. It was tragic to see her suffer, but it was as though a weight was lifted when we were finally able to identify the cause of the forgetfulness and confusion she had been experiencing. Taking care of my mother until her death in 1987 gave me much insight into Alzheimer’s and the terrible effects it has on both patients and their loved ones.
After my mother’s diagnosis, my mission became to help identify the causes as well as find a cure for this disease. That’s when Jerome Stone, founder of the Alzheimer’s Association, contacted me.
In 1979 Jerome—whose wife, Evelyn, suffered from Alzheimer’s—started the association that has become the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. One of the wonderful things about this group is that, in addition to the critical research it helps fund, it also provides support to caregivers and people with the disease. Since I’d been my mother’s caregiver and had seen firsthand what she went through, I understand the importance of support.
This month we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the New York Rita Hayworth Gala. Since the gala’s inception, the New York and Chicago events have raised more than $50 million for the Alzheimer’s Association. My terrific committee members have really been the backbone of these evenings. These wonderful committees of women, coupled with all our loyal supporters who have attended and donated generously through the years, have made the Rita Hayworth Gala the highly anticipated social event and successful fundraiser it is today.
The Rita Hayworth Gala captures the glamour my mother embodied in her films, while also being a magical evening filled with purpose and hope. I truly love working with the Alzheimer’s Association, and I’m so proud of the progress we’ve made in the last 25 years. I look forward to one day living in a world without this disease.
The Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala After 25 Years… A Sparkling Silver Celebration takes place on Tuesday, October 28, at the Waldorf=Astoria, 301 Park Avenue. For tickets, call 212-843-1712; visit alz.org for more information or to make a donation.