Forget-Me-Not Gala for Alzheimer’s Research Joins UCNI Calendar

Honorary event Co-Chairs Kathee Van Kirk, left, and Lisette Sehlhorst.
Photo by Cindy Starr.

Alzheimer’s is a disease of “abundant cruelty” that John Van Kirk, PhD, knows all too well. The Cincinnati businessman lost his wife of 56 years, Rosemary, to the disease in 2012. Eager to honor her memory by raising money for research, Dr. Van Kirk has founded a new event: the Forget-Me-Not Gala, which will support clinical research in Alzheimer’s at the Memory Disorders Center at the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute, one of four institutes of the UC College of Medicine and UC Health. The upscale gala will be held Friday, Sept. 27, at the Phoenix in downtown Cincinnati.

“I think about all that my wife gave me over 56 years, and what I gave her wasn’t enough,” Dr. Van Kirk reflects. “This is a give-back. You can’t go through five years of suffering without being touched by this disease.”

The Forget-Me-Not Gala, a wine-pairing dinner and silent auction, will be presented by The Wine Merchant, in celebration of its 40th anniversary. The Oakley store, founded by Dr. Van Kirk, a retired Xavier University marketing professor, is owned by his daughter, Kathee Van Kirk, and Lisette Sehlhorst. Ms. Van Kirk and Ms. Sehlhorst are the event’s honorary co-chairs. The gala’s silent auction will feature thousands of dollars’ worth of fine wines, a Mendocino, Calif., vacation home, and other gifts.

“The UC Memory Disorders Center is grateful to the Van Kirk family and The Wine Merchant for their commitment to Alzheimer’s disease research and their passion for making a difference in the lives of others,” says Joseph Broderick, MD, Research Director at UCNI and Chair of UC’s Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine. “We want to accelerate clinical and translational research in Alzheimer’s in Cincinnati, and this event will help us move toward that goal. All funds raised will remain in Cincinnati.”

“Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia brush elbows with numerous neurological diseases and disorders,” adds John M. Tew, Jr., MD, Clinical Director of UCNI and Professor of Neurosurgery. “The more we know about Alzheimer’s, the more we will know about the brain in general, and the greater our potential to pre-empt or interrupt a disease process that is devastating to individuals and their families.”

The UC Memory Disorders Center employs the latest technologies and therapies to diagnose and treat hundreds of adult patients from across the Greater Cincinnati region each year. Its physicians are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and non-Alzheimer’s dementia, including impairment resulting from cerebrovascular disease and hydrocephalus. The center’s physicians also have expertise in diagnosing and treating rare cognitive diseases, such as primary progressive aphasia, frontotemporal dementia and autoimmune encephalopathy.

The UC Memory Disorders Center was officially launched in 2011 with generous support from Sandy and Bob Heimann, who in 2008 established the Sandy and Bob Heimann Chair in Research and Education of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Forget-Me-Not table sponsorships begin at $1,500, single tickets at $100. To sponsor a table, donate an auction item, or sign up to volunteer, please contact or call (513) 558-6769.

The Forget-Me-Not Gala joins UCNI’s busy summer-fall event calendar, which also includes two upcoming fund-raisers for Parkinson’s disease research (the 22nd Annual Jerry Wuest-Pete Hershberger Dinner Gala & Golf Classic and the Sunflower Revolution Fitness Festival) and two fundraisers for brain tumor research (the 5th Annual Shemenski Foundation Strike Against Cancer Bowl-a-Thon and the 4th annual Walk Ahead for a Brain Tumor Cure).

— Cindy Starr

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