By Alyssa Schnugg
When Sheila Gourlay was diagnosed three years ago with Alzheimer’s disease, she didn’t let the news keeping her from doing things she loves, especially painting.
Her daughter, local chef Elizabeth Heiskell said her mother continues to remain determined to fight off the effects of the disease as long as she can by staying healthy and keeping her mind and body active.
“At her last check-up at the Mayo Clinic they saw no progression,” Heiskell said. “In fact, there was even some improvement. That’s because she fights. She does yoga, she exercises, she walks.”
To celebrate her 73-year-old mother and raise funds for Memory Makers, a respite day service for caregivers of Alzheimer’s family members, Heiskell joined forces with local restaurants, Grit and Saint Leo to present, “A Night to Remember” fundraiser to be held at 7 p.m. On Sept. 26 at The Jefferson in Oxford.
“When someone hears someone has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they say ‘sorry’ and turn around because unlike cancer, where many do survive, they believe there’s no hope for people with Alzheimer’s,” Heiskell said. “But there is hope. These people are valid and they are contributing.”
The event will include a buffet supper with food from Heiskell’s Catering, Grit and Saint Leo and music will be provided by Jesse and Kelly Pinion.
Many of Gourlay’s more recent works of art will be available to purchase.
Tickets for “A Night to Remember” are $50 and the money raised from the art and ticket sales will be donated to Memory Makers.
“Memory Makers is such a beautifully-run organization,” Heiskell said. “And I don’t think a lot of people know about it and how much help they provide to caregivers, who are often overworked and need a break now and then.”
Memory Makers provides respite care in a secure and welcoming environment for adults with early to middle stage Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. Structured daily activities include periods of socialization and participation in a wide variety of meaningful activities.
“We are so excited that Elizabeth and her mother chose to host this benefit for Memory Makers,” said Memory Makers director Tracy Morgan. “It is very meaningful to us, the community and those people affected by dementia and also their caregivers. Ms. Gourlay is extremely generous to be displaying and sharing her artwork. We are looking forward to a ‘Night to Remember’ and hope our wonderful town helps support this cause.”
A cash bar will be available. Tickets will be sold at the door, however, Heiskell said they encourage people to purchase tickets prior to the event so the chefs know how much food to prepare.
For more information or to order tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org.