Several years before Matt Vettel’s mother, Karen, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Matt and his family began to notice changes in her, including forgetfulness, confusion, and hallucinations.
“It was hard for our family to see my mom battle this debilitating disease as it gradually robbed her of her personality and warmth,” says Matt. “She has always been the biggest cheerleader and source of strength for her children and grandchildren. Our entire family struggles with the change in our relationship with this extraordinary woman.”
When individuals like Karen are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they have limited treatment options that mostly manage symptoms. The treatments don’t prevent, slow down, or cure the debilitating disease.
Wanting to do their part to change the course of Alzheimer’s for future generations, the Vettels made a $1 million gift to Brigham and Women’s Hospital to establish the Alzheimer’s Innovation Fund. By engaging their network of friends and family, they have raised additional gifts of more than $200,000 and counting.
The Vettels’ goals are to support early-stage research to prevent Alzheimer’s, advance research to a level that will attract larger investments from government and pharmaceutical industry funders, and bring new treatments to patients faster.
Overseeing the fund are the leaders of BWH’s Alzheimer Center, Dennis Selkoe, MD, Reisa Sperling, MD, MMSc, and Kirk Daffner, MD, who are combining their expertise in laboratory research, clinical trials, and patient care with a singular focus on ending Alzheimer’s.
“Having personal experience with this devastating illness, the Vettels understand what patients and family members are facing,” Daffner says. “They are mobilizing with energy, passion, belief—and their own resources—to help us more rapidly pursue answers so doctors can intervene early and ultimately prevent this disease.”
Matt says, “This disease has had a profound impact on my family—and we know we’re not alone. More research is needed and the Brigham has the right people, tools, and technology to defeat Alzheimer’s. The only thing standing in their way is time and funding.”
To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Innovation Fund, visit BWHgiving.org/endalz.