Fort Mill Times

50th birthday bash in Charlotte aims at Alzheimer’s cure

Barbara Ivey is going to need one heck of a big blue bucket.

The Fort Mill Rotarian celebrates her 50th birthday this month. She’s doing it by hosting an event that won’t so much be present for her as it will be for people like her mom in Hendersonville, N.C., and uncle in Kansas. Both family members suffer from Alzheimer’s.

“It’s such a hopeless disease,” Ivey said. “It’s easy to lose hope.”

Offering some hope in fighting Alzheimer’s are Rotarians in six states who participate in the Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust, or CART Fund. Club members drop spare change, or more, into blue buckets at weekly meetings for the cause. Because Rotarians are volunteers, there’s no overhead.

“Every dollar you give, one dollar goes directly to research,” Ivey said.

Ivey has some connections with Nashville songwriters and was to receive a private concert for her birthday. But with a cause in mind, and as a way of “taking the focus off me,” Ivey decided on a public performance with all funds raised going to CART.

Makin’ Memories: A Community Event To Benefit Alzheimer’s Research runs 5-8 p.m. Aug. 23 at The Saloon at the N.C. Music Factory. Featured are Shawn Camp and Verlon Thompson starting at 6 p.m. The pair have writing credits for stars like Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffet and Trisha Yearwood.

Organizers are asking for $10 in advance or $20 at the door, with all money going to CART. There’s no specific monetary goal but there are about 600 seats and Ivey “would love to pack the place out.” One attendee will be fund founder Roger Ackerman, a Rotarian from Sumter.

“Birthdays are typically a time for receiving but she chose to use it for giving and has shown the true spirit of our organization,” he said of Ivey.

Bill Shillito, executive director of the fund, said the loose change adds up to some serious cash for cutting edge research. In about a decade, some 30,000 Rotarians raised more than $4 million. More than 20 grants have been awarded to groups like The Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts General in Boston, Cedars Sinai Medical Center and the University of Washington.

A major grant of $250,000 is given for two years. There’s often a second or third grant given annually, depending on donations.

“Our researchers tell us, without CART their research would not be funded,” Shillito said. “Without funding these wonderfully dedicated and terrifically talented young doctors will not be able to stay in the field of research. It is urgent that we continue raise these critical funds and to award more grants each year.”

For more on the Aug. 23 event, including how to get tickets, visit