Column: Balboa Bay Club event raises $370,000 for UCI’s Alzheimer’s research program

Next generation scientists, Stefania Former, PhD, and Alessandra Martini, PhD, with Dean Frank LaFer
From left, UC Irvine scientists Stefania Forner, Frank LaFerla and Alessandra Martini attend a UCI MIND gala in Newport Beach that that netted $370,000 for Alzheimer’s research. La Ferla is the university’s dean of biological sciences.
(Courtesy of Laurel Hungerford Photography)

Alzheimer’s disease continues to make health-related news. Researchers are examining a possible link between dementia and untreated bacteria in the gums and teeth. And though that research is ongoing, what scientists and medical doctors do know is that Alzheimer’s is affecting an expanding segment of the population. They predict caseloads growing exponentially in the coming decades.

The search for a cure, or at least some sort of preventive therapy, is at the forefront for countless organizations and support groups helping patients nationwide. UC Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND) is the only state and federally designated Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in Orange County, according to the program’s Linda Scheck

At year’s end, UCI MIND hosted its ninth annual “A December to Remember Gala” at Balboa Bay Resort. An impressive, record-breaking $370,000 was raised. Dr. Joshua Grill, director of UCI MIND, welcomed the sold-out crowd.

“We are forever grateful for you continued support,” he said. “We would not be at the forefront of Alzheimer’s disease research without it.”

Grill shared that Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and the third leading cause of death in Orange County. The 2018 gala honored William Edwards, CEO of Edwards Global Services; Steve O’Leary, vice chairman of the Shipyard; and Keith Swayne, retired CEO of Case Swayne Co./International Food Solutions.

All three honorees have come to the cause with a personal connection to the disease, turning that relationship into action to help others. Also recognized was the Brower Group and the Smart Agency, which was presented with the 2018 Community Leadership Award. Accepting the accolades were the Brower Group’s Judy Brower Fancher, chief strategist, and Jenn Quader, president. Spotted in the dinner crowd were honorary chair Electa Anderson and Janet Curci, Barbara Mathew, Lauren Kear, Beverly Newton, Stefanie Forner and Alessandra Martini.

UCI MIND’s honorary gala chair, Electa Anderson with donors Janet Curci and Barbara Mathew at Alzhei
UCI MIND’s honorary gala chair Electa Anderson, center, with donors Janet Curci, left, and Barbara Mathew, right, attend an event to raise money for Alzheimer’s disease research in Newport Beach.
(Photo courtesy of Laurel Hungerford Photography)

UCI MIND is one of 32 Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers funded by the National Institute on Aging, and one of 10 California Alzheimer’s Disease Centers funded by the California Department of Public Health.

For information, visit

A Preview of upcoming social events

Table for 10 will throw its annual — and lavish — dining extravaganza March 3 at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa in Dana Point. One of the county’s most talked about dining events brings together celebrity chefs preparing amazing multi-course dinners with wine pairings for individual tables of 10 made up of generous donors coming together to support the Teen Project. The charity, which is under the wing of Lauri Burns, finds its purpose in helping homeless teens emancipated at age 18 and living on the streets. For more information, contact Donna Bunce, at

Honorees Keith Swayne, Steve O’Leary and Bill Edwards with Dr. Joshua Grill at Alzheimer’s fundrais
Honorees Keith Swayne, Steve O’Leary and Bill Edwards with Dr. Joshua Grill at Alzheimer’s fundraiser at Balboa Bay Resort.
(Photo courtesy of Laurel Hungerford Photography)

The Newport Chapter of National Charity League Jrs. will present the annual mother-daughter luncheon March 2 at the Fashion Island Hotel in Newport Beach. The longstanding event is a much-loved gathering of moms and their young daughters coming together, sharing a family bond with the adults and introducing their children to the importance of community service. As in years past, the highlight of the event is a fashion show featuring sixth-graders from the NCL Jrs. Auxiliary. For more information, contact Stephanie Kavanaugh at

The Child Abuse Prevention Center is in the final planning stages of its upcoming 21st annual gala set for March 9 at Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach. Organizers are billing the fundraising event as “The Heart of Broadway-Come Alive.” Party planners are organizing a cocktail reception, silent auction, live auction, dinner and entertainment celebrating the Prevention Center’s 35th anniversary. For information call (714) 543.4333 or contact Donna Hahn at

B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.