Every year, the Great Minds Gala committee bestows 3 awards, each designed to recognize extraordinary leadership in the quest to improve the lives of those touched by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia:
- The Senator William and Ellen Proxmire Award
- Excellence in Dementia Care Award
- Exceptional Friend or Family Caregiver Award
Previous recipients of the Senator William and Ellen Proxmire Award include Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, First Lady, Rosalynn Carter, Mark Kennedy Shriver, Glen Campbell and his family along with movie producers James Keach and Trevor Albert for the critically acclaimed film, “I’ll Be Me”and most recently this past year, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Sandy Halperin.
The Senator William and Ellen Proxmire Award
The Senator William and Ellen Proxmire Award recognizes a national figure who demonstrated leadership and has positively impacted public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The 2017 Senator William and Ellen Proxmire Award Winner: Sylvia Mackey
Sylvia Mackey met her husband, Baltimore Colt John Mackey, when they were both students at Syracuse University. In 1963, they graduated and were married in December of the same year. Soon after, John became a tight end for the Baltimore Colts, and remained in the NFL for 10 years.
In 2006, John was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) and Sylvia finally had answers concerning his recent strange behavior. Sylvia soon realized that the cost of care could put families in financial ruin. This led her to launch what became the “88” plan, named after her husband’s jersey number from his time with the Colts. The plan provides $88,000 annually for care at an assisted living community and $50,000 per year for adult day care. John Mackey died in 2011. Sylvia continues to advocate for continued research and support for families.
Ms. Mackey presently serves on the Board of Directors for the Concussion Legacy Foundation and the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute. She also has been appointed Program Advisor for Validus Senior Living, headquartered in Tampa, Florida. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s Association of Baltimore and the Board of the Association for Frontotemporal Degenerations.
Excellence in Dementia Care Award
The Excellence in Dementia Care Award recognizes an organization for creating programs or services that are models of excellence and contribute significantly to the quality of life of individuals with dementia.
Masonic Home of Shelbyville
This year’s recipient is the Masonic Home of Shelbyville, a nonprofit organization part of Masonic Home of Kentucky, whose mission is “Passionate People, Inspiring Lives.” The organization created a progressive program called “Silver Angels” that delivers holistic care for residents with dementia every evening encompassing meals, activities and bedtime preparation. By changing the way it delivers care, the organization has been able to improve quality of life by drastically reducing falls and use of psychotropic drugs.
Exceptional Friend or Family Caregiver Award
The Exceptional Friend or Family Caregiver Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding compassion and abilities in one-on-one caregiving for a friend or family member living with dementia.
Mary McCoy’s warmth and involvement has been an inspiration at Motion Picture & Television Fund’s memory care unit, Harry’s Haven, where her husband Dick resides. She volunteers and/or visits almost every day. Mary knows that people with cognitive impairment are not brittle, mute, or unintelligent. She finds way to break through silence and interact with them while still treating them as ordinary people with consideration, kindness, and humor. This remarkable commitment has not only been beneficial for Dick, but for all the residents who are lonely and need a friendly face to talk to.
Excellence in Dementia Care Award – Phoebe Ministries
Exceptional Friend or Family Caregiver Award – Judy Steffes
The Senator William and Ellen Proxmire Award – Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Alexander “Sandy” Halperin
Excellence in Dementia Care Award Winner – Presbyterian SeniorCare
Exceptional Friend or Family Caregiver Award – Sylvia Allen & Jennifer Tu
The Senator William and Ellen Proxmire Award – Jeanne Phillips aka Abigail Van Buren author of “Dear Abby”
Excellence in Dementia Care Award Winner – Ecumen
Exceptional Friend or Family Caregiver Award – Kathy Ritchie
The Senator William and Ellen Proxmire Award – The Glen Campbell Family and film director/producer James Keach and producer Trevor Albert