Women Who Inspire: Mikey Hoag
I felt powerless when my father, living more than 3,000 miles away, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. I was unable to help with his daily care, but I was also unwilling to sit idle. I turned to my husband Jay and asked "What can we do?"
When my father passed away, I realized the power my personal story could have in rallying people around the Alzheimer's cause. It was difficult for me at first — I didn't know if people would respond if I spoke out. But I had two choices: I could ignore the problem, or I could do something about it. And when my mother started to show the signs of the disease, I knew I had to kick it in gear. This couldn't wait.
I partnered with the Alzheimer's Association and a steering committee of dedicated women affected by the disease to launch the first Part the Cloud gala in 2012. The event featured a live performance by American icon Tony Bennett and appearances by Bill Walton, Joan Baez, Mickey Hart, Terry Moran, Virginia Madsen and other well-known celebrities. It was an evening of music, dancing and storytelling that raised nearly $2 million to advance the research efforts of the Alzheimer's Association.
From there, the event continued to grow: In 2014, Part the Cloud raised over $4 million, making it the largest one-day fundraiser in the Association's history. The biennial gala alternates yearly with a luncheon of the same name, and together the two events have raised over $6 million to date, allowing the Association to support the work of some of the nation's most prestigious scientists and universities.
I believe that research is the only way to end this disease. Awards from Part the Cloud focus on accelerating the transition of critical findings from the laboratory through trials and into possible therapies — filling the gap in Alzheimer's drug development by providing essential support for early-phase clinical studies.
My experience with Part the Cloud has made me optimistic about the power of community and what can be achieved, especially with a strong network. There are times when I'm exhausted and feel like I'm not making any headway, and then I meet other strong women like Dagmar Dolby and Maria Shriver and know others are fighting just as hard for the same cause. It keeps me going.
Learn more about Part the Cloud at alz.org/galas.