Alzheimer’s team going to Tallahassee

In attendance at the pledge ceremony Melissa Vanderbilt-Bestor’s Alzheimer’s Congressional Team are, from left,

Vanderbilt-Bestor, team member Jessica Cantwell, Darla Vient of U.S. Rep. Thomas Rooney’s office, team member Tanya Lockett and Alzheimer’s Association Public Policy Manager Cyrena Duncan.

Alzheimer’s Ambassador Melissa Vanderbilt-Bestor, community outreach coordinator with The Springs at South Biscayne, traveled to Tallahassee in January and spoke with legislators about making Alzheimer’s a top state priority. She was one of more than 40 delegates from South Florida at the “Rally in Tally” sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association of Florida,

Vanderbilt-Bestor is going back to Tallahassee, and this time she will be accompanied by two members of her Congressional Team: Jessica Cantwell of the Life Care Center of Punta Gorda and Tanyah Lockett of Royal Palm Retirement Center. The two were sworn in during a special event at The Springs at South Biscayne on Sept. 9.

“I am very honored to have two women who are as passionate about this disease as I am,” she said, “and together we can make a difference in the lives we touch.

Darla Vient, representing Congressman Thomas Rooney, came to town to oversee the swearing in ceremony of Cantwell and Lockett. Cyrena Duncan, Public Policy Manager of the Alzheimer’s Association, led the two in a pledge of support and commitment to the Congressional Team.

After the team’s Tallahassee mission in February, Vanderbilt-Bestor will be heading to Washington, D.C. at end of March, continuing, as she says, “to speak for those who can’t.”

Vanderbilt-Bestor, Cantwell and Lockett were all on the committee responsible for The Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which took place at Lashley Park on Oct. 6.

“Our goal was to raise $50.000 this year,” said Vanderbilt-Bestor, “but thanks to all those who came out to support this event, $53,900 was raised.”

Vanderbilt-Bestor cited some facts about Alzheimer’s, noting that there are over 10,000 estimated cases of the disease in Charlotte County. Currently, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and by 2050, that number is projected to reach nearly 14 million.

“One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or other dementia,” she said. “It kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops the disease.”

Vanderbilt-Bestor encourages concerned citizens to get involved by registering for the walks at and by attending educational seminars and fundraising events. The latter includes a quarter auction, “Quarter Frenzy for the Alzheimer’s Association,” on Nov. 8 at the 24TwentyOne Event Center. 2421 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the fun starts at 6:30. Paddles are $3 each or three for $7.

“You can win great items for just quarters,” Vanderbilt-Bestor promised.

The association is holding a free lunch-and-learn, “Understanding Alzheimer’s,” at The Springs at South Biscayne on Nov. 9. Seating is limited, so registration is required. RSVP by calling 800-914-6770.


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