Greenwich family raises $50,000 for Alzheimer’s research

From left, Eleonora Tornatore-Mikesh, CEO, Alzheimer's Association CT Chapter; Lexi Rodriguez, Special Events Director, Alzheimer's Association CT Chapter; members of the Zaccagnini family including Douglas; Barbara Brock and Steven

From left, Eleonora Tornatore-Mikesh, CEO, Alzheimer’s Association CT Chapter; Lexi Rodriguez, Special Events Director, Alzheimer’s Association CT Chapter; members of the Zaccagnini family including Douglas; Barbara Brock and Steven

Many people in town have taken on the mission of supporting charities, but Greenwich resident Barbara Zaccagnini and her family went above and beyond when they raised more than $50,000 in support of the Connecticut chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, donating the funds in support of the yearly Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

The contribution was the largest linked to the event, which raised a total of $1.1 million in support of Alzheimer’s disease research and treatment. Ms. Zaccagnini sons, Douglas and Steven, are the co-owners of the restaurant Dougie’s Stand By, located near the border of Greenwich and Port Chester, N.Y. Together with their customers, the Zaccagnini family has taken on a number of charitable causes, but chose to aid the Alzheimer’s Association after recognizing a gap in the funding provided for treatment of the disease.

“The response that customers gave of how thankful and appreciative they were, and how many people they knew whose lives had been affected by [Alzhiemer’s], was overwhelming,” Ms. Zaccagnini told the Post.

Dougie’s Stand By engages the community in a number of events, including an annual chili eating contest, hot dog eating contest and  special Alzheimer’s Day. Ms. Zaccagnini said that a pair of musicians from the Met who had been personally affected by the disease were able to donate their time on behalf of the fund-raiser.

She added, “It’s a beautiful thing to help people, it’s a beautiful thing to touch someone’s heart and it was an amazing response from the community.”

As the top donating team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Dougie’s Stand By raised more than twice as much as the second- and third-place teams. The Zaccagninis team was registered for the walk in Norwalk, one of six possible locations, including Hartford, Enfield, New Haven, New London, and New Milford. More than 800 teams and 7,000 participants across those locations helped the organization raise $1.1 million.

Proceeds from the Walk to End Alzheimer’s help fund the association’s many initiatives, which include research grants, education and community outreach. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than 8,000 caregivers benefited from programs and services provided during this year.

The Alzheimer’s Association of Connecticut is active locally, hosting its largest gala, Celebrating Hope, each year at Richards on Greenwich Avenue. The event raised $150,000 earlier this year, and is set to return on May 1. Ms. Zaccagnini has named herself among the many who will support the upcoming benefit. This year’s Celebrating Hope benefit was Ms. Zaccagnini’s first exposure to the Alzheimer’s Association and the need for fund raising, leading her sons to take on the cause for their own yearly charity efforts.

Richards’ partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association is not restricted solely to the Celebrating Hope gala; the retailer provided an evening of holiday shopping in support of the organization on Dec. 4, with 10% of all purchases made being donated.

“We are always happy to work with this team and further Alzheimer’s awareness and contribute to the fund raising for this devastating illness,” Sandy Ceppos, director of sales and markecting for the Mitchells family of stores, said. “We are looking forward to another wonderfully successful evening in May at our store.”

Other upcoming events for the Alzheimer’s Association include the Brain Ball, which gathers some of the state’s leading political, business and social leaders to raise awareness, and the Band Together concert, a fun musical fund-raiser taking on the theme of the British Invasion this year.

To find out more about how you can contribute to the Alzheimer’s Association, or learn more about the services the organization provides, visit Alz.org/CT.

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