VSU Faculty, Staff, Students Encouraged to go Casual for a Cause

August 23, 2012

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Faculty, Staff, Students Encouraged to go Casual for a Cause


VALDOSTA -- To raise funds for and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, Valdosta State University’s Division of Social Work is asking faculty, staff, and students to go Casual for a Cause on Friday, Aug. 31.

Anyone can participate by donating $5 and wearing jeans or other casual attire the day of the event. Casual for a Day participants will receive a sticker, have a forget-me-not displayed in their honor in Pine Hall through Nov. 30, and have their name listed on the Alzheimer’s Association’s fundraiser website.

Donations can be made in advance by contacting Felicia Hilson at (229) 219-1392 or fahilson@valdosta.edu or by visiting the Casual for a Cause table on the second floor of the Student Union between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31.

Proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association during the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Valdosta Middle School on Friday, Sept. 15. The funds will help the organization get one step closer to realizing its mission to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease and to provide the best care and support to those living with the disease.

An avid University of Tennessee women’s basketball fan, Hilson noted that it was Coach Pat Summitt’s announcement that she had been diagnosed with the disease that led her to organize VSU’s first Casual for a Cause event. She said that she has admired the coach’s commitment to education for 18 years.

“We hope to hold this event annually,” said the director of admissions and recruiting for the Division of Social Work. “We support this cause for many reasons.”

The university’s Division of Social Work sponsors a day program for senior citizens who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia called My Friend’s House. Located at 109 W. Moore St. and open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, program services are provided free of charge and include a variety of activities that promote social, physical, creative, and cognitive stimulation.

Right now, My Friend’s House has eight regular attendees, all of them women. They are cared for by a team of four staff members, two graduate assistants, and a host of volunteers from the Division of Social Work, College of Nursing, university-affiliated sororities, and other departments.

Dr. Dorothy Dye, executive director of My Friend’s House, said the program benefits from the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and Casual for a Cause when families of those who suffer from the disease are in need of respite care services and the latest educational information. Of course, the program also sees a benefit in the research funded by the association, which may someday lead to a cure.

“According to the 2012 report of the national Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured, or have its progression abated,” Hilson shared. “Today, almost 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease; this number is expected to be up to 16 million by 2050. Today, nearly 200,000 people within the state of Georgia have Alzheimer’s. It’s important that research is completed to help reduce the number of individuals, including caregivers, who are impacted by the disease.”

Hilson and Dye would like to see the entire VSU community participate in Casual for a Cause and/or the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. To date, the university has five teams registered to walk -- the Division of Social Work’s Reaching for the Summit, the My Friend’s House Joymakers, Alpha Theta Zeta Phi Beta’s Blue and White, Psi Chi and the Psych Club, and Students for a Cause, which consists of members from the Student Action Council, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

“Alzheimer’s is no longer a disease that affects the elderly,” Hilson said. “More than 200,000 individuals younger than 65 are living with Alzheimer’s. Moreover, more than 15 million primary family members and friends provide unpaid care for individuals who live with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

“Through my fundraising efforts, I have discovered that four of my relatives have been impacted by the disease,” she added.

Contact Felicia Hilson at (229) 219-1392 or fahilson@valdosta.edu to learn more about Casual for a Cause. Contact Dr. Dorothy Dye at (229) 293-6145 or ddye@valdosta.edu or Phyllis Alvarez, program assistant, at (229) 293-6146 or ptbrooks@valdosta.edu to learn more about My Friend’s House.

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