The audience remains captivated as special guest speaker and New York Times best-selling author Kimberly Williams-Paisley kicks off The Roskamp Institute’s third annual Grey Matters Symposium (GM3) on Alzheimer’s Research. Philanthropists, business leaders and members of Sarasota’s medical community gathered at the sold-out September event to support the debilitating and often misunderstood mental disease. Williams-Paisley lightens up the room by cracking a few jokes about her former comedy film career and her famous country singing heartthrob husband before sharing laughs with the crowd as she narrates entertaining stories of her childhood and growing up into adulthood with her late mother. Attendees soon experience all the feels—somberly sympathizing with Williams-Paisley as she describes the devastating affect her mother’s diagnosis had on the family and the importance of caregiving. As she speaks candidly, she shares the hardships that were endured as her mother’s ailment worsened—including car accidents resulting from reversing instead of accelerating and not being able to dutifully hold Williams-Paisley’s newborn child. “The hardest thing for me to realize,” she says, “is sometimes our caregivers need caregiving.” A standing ovation encapsulates the whole room as Williams-Paisley concludes: “If my mom were here right now, she’d tell you to lean into this kind of group and welcome the light that will charge in.” The subsequent glow-stick fundraising challenge did indeed light up the room in more ways than one. Once everyone had a blue glow stick in hand, the room went dark and audience members were asked to raise their hand in the air if they have been personally affected by Alzheimer’s. Whether a husband, wife, parent, friend or they themselves showing early signs, just about every single hand lifted and lit up the room. In an auction-style donation query, hands continued to be raised as attendees showed their willingness to donate. GM3 hit their fundraising goal in less than five minutes. All proceeds raised at the symposium beneft The Roskamp Institute’s development for care for Alzeimer’s patients and toward the ongoing scientific research for a treatment and hopeful strides for a cure.  

The 4th Annual Grey Matters Symposium on Alzheimer’s Research is scheduled for September 25, 2020,