Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chester Resident Works To Eradicate Alzheimer’s

Five point three million people nationwide are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. And 350,000 of those people are from New Jersey.

Senior Vice President, Market Expansion, for Eisai Corporation, and Board member of the Greater New Jersey, Alzheimer’s Association, Frank Ciriello, doesn’t like those figures.

“I find it to be a very strange disease,” Ciriello says, who has been a board member for the Alzheimer’s Association for the past four years now, “When you look at somebody who has it, they may look fine. But then you look at them and they don’t remember who you are. It’s a very destructive disease.”

So destructive, that Ciriello and many others get together every year for the annual Alzheimer’s Association Polo Classic, which was cancelled this year and pushed to next year due to excessive rain that interfered with both dates on June 20th and the 27th.

“The rain affected the fields,” says Judith Julian, Director of Communications and Marketing for the Alzheimer’s Association of the Greater New Jersey Chapter, “When you have polo players and horses, you have to watch the fields.”

The Polo Classic, when it occurs, is a way for residents to combat Alzheimer’s Disease by featuring world-class polo players competing before thousands of corporate sponsors and attendees. There are also other activities there that garner funds, such as face painting and an antique and classic car display for all to see.

“As a board member, one of the things I [think is], how can we find additional ways to get money to people in the New Jersey area [with Alzheimer’s Disease],” Ciriello says.

And while the money is definitely helpful, Ciriello doesn’t believe that money is everything when it comes to the Polo Classic.

“It’s not only about the money,” Ciriello says, “but also about how we get the word out there about Alzheimer’s. When you look at the 1-800 number [that the Alzheimer’s Association provides people with], it’s helped people tremendously.”

Ciriello is no stranger to receiving help. When he moved to this country from Italy, he feels he received a great deal of help, making the transition for him a smooth one.

“I feel strongly about [helping others] because when I came here at 18, I was welcomed,” Ciriello says.

This is just one of the many reasons that he finds time outside of his job at Eisai to at one point in time, coach the West Morris Soccer Club for four years, be a volunteer official for youth swim meets at the Somerset Hills YMCA, and be a board member for the Alzheimer’s Association.

“I think as a citizen, you need to give back,” says Ciriello, “and it’s not just about the money, it’s about the time and giving back; like helping somebody put groceries in their car.”

If you or someone you know might be showing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, you can reach the Alzheimer’s Association’s at 1-800-883-1180.


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