When you think of Alzheimer’s disease, chances are you imagine a hospital setting or a doctor’s office – not a night in a comedy club. But that’s exactly the kind of venue actor and comedian Seth Rogen uses to raise Alzheimer’s awareness through his organization Hilarity for Charity (HFC), a non-profit he and his wife co-founded in 2014 after his mother-in-law was diagnosed with the disease. Realizing how little their friends and colleagues knew about Alzheimer’s, Seth and Lauren chose to focus their efforts on mobilizing the millennial generation, leveraging the talents of industry contacts to organize comic and performance events that have raised over $4M towards Alzheimer’s research and treatment.
HFC funds are funneled to three target areas:
— CARE: In partnership with Home Instead Senior Care, HFC awards in-home care grants to families caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia who cannot afford home health aides. To date their Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Relief Program has provided over 17,000 hours of respite care to Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in need of support.
— SUPPORT AND AWARENESS: HFC sponsors a number of initiatives geared towards millennials affected by Alzheimer’s, including Google hangout support groups specifically meant for caregivers under 40. The organization has also produced a feature-length film that portrays the effects of Alzheimer’s through the lives of three families dealing with the disease. HFC’s website offers a range of practical and creative suggestions for young people to get involved – everything from how to write to your congressman to how to host a kickball fundraiser! They’ve even spun off a separate entity called HFC U, an organization meant to educate and inspire college students to host their own fundraising events to end Alzheimer’s.
— RESEARCH: HFC designates a certain percentage of its revenue each year to fund research through the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Research Grant Program, and has directly sponsored grants targeted at early detection of Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
“It’s tough,” said Lauren Miller recently to Time Magazine. “We don’t have success stories of people who have been cured of Alzheimer’s to get up and give a great, inspiring speech about how if you support us, people will be cured … But progress has been made. It’s about rallying the voices.”
Want to learn more? Watch Seth Rogen’s inspiring testimony before congress on behalf of increasing Alzheimer’s research funding, here.