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RSVP / ORANGE COUNTY : Out of Site, In Mind : Alzheimer's Assn. Plays a New Tune at Annual Benefit With a Jazzy, Southern-Styled Event to Remember

July 19, 1994|KATHRYN BOLD

Jazz music, Southern-style food and a Tara-like mansion gave a new beat to the Alzheimer's Assn. of Orange County's annual musical benefit.

"An Evening to Remember . . . All That Jazz" was the theme of the midsummer night's gala, which attracted about 300 guests Saturday to the Santa Ana Heights estate of John and Donna Crean. The $65-per-person event was expected to net $40,000 for the association, which supports Alzheimer's research and provides patient and care-giver services.

A Different Drummer

For the past three years the association's fund-raiser featured a performance by Pacific Symphony Orchestra at Irvine Meadows. This year the organizers decided to change their tune.

"We wanted something different. I happen to like jazz, and we were lucky enough to be chosen by the Creans to use their home--it fits the theme really well," said Cathy Boyle, who served as gala co-chairwoman with Rosemary Carty.

After a cocktail reception and silent auction, guests sat by the pool at tables draped in yellow and decorated with baskets filled with rosemary--the symbol for memory used by the Alzheimer's Assn.

They visited a buffet loaded with Southern specialties prepared by Regency Caterers of the Hyatt Newporter. The fare included Cajun sausage, beer-battered chicken, steak gumbo and Creole specialties. Aubergine, a Newport Beach restaurant, provided pecan whiskey tarts, crepes Suzette and assorted pastries.

Guests later danced to Dixieland, blues and big-band jazz performed by Big Band 2000, a group of 17 musicians led by Bill Strout.

Rosemary for Remembrance

Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain, causing impaired memory, thinking and behavior. It afflicts 40,000 people in Orange County. Most guests got involved in the association because they know a family member or friend who had the disease.

Mark Coffman, board president, joined after his mother-in-law died of Alzheimer's.

"She was 48 when the disease was diagnosed and died at age 59. We went through the whole process and felt we could offer what we learned to help others," said Coffman, who attended with wife Debbi.

Because the disease leaves its victims incapable of caring for themselves, it takes its toll not only on the patient but on family and friends.

"It's stressful. You're guilt-ridden when you lose your patience" with them, said Boyle, whose father-in-law died of Alzheimer's in 1990. "Sometimes you feel resentful. It's 24 hours, seven days a week, and you want time for yourself."

The disease is also financially devastating to families. Cost of providing custodial care can run $2,000 to $3,000 a month, and that is not covered by Medicare, said Linda Scheck, associate director of the association. Patients can live two to 20 years from the time the disease is diagnosed.

The Orange County association, one of 220 nationwide, is based in Orange and provides a volunteer help line, free support groups for both patients and families and visiting volunteers to come to the home to relieve the care giver and work with the patient.

Among those attending the gala were: Carole Radzins, executive director of the association; Coleen Aldrich, Fay Blix, Richard Hamill, Hal Harley, Harold Hurwitz, Selly Jenny, Joyce Lowder, Meredith Medanich, Donald Power, Robert and Ute Rosenberg, Eric and Patricia Rosenberg, Mitchell and Joan Samuelson, Jim and Susan Vocke and Joyce Weiss.

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