New student group hosts improv show for Alzheimer’s research and awareness
May 28, 2015
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Some say improv comedy is one of the best forms of entertainment for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Because of this, members of They Forget, We Remember, a new Center for Student Involvement-recognized student club, are producing their first improv comedy show Friday in Ryan Auditorium.
The show will feature performances from The Titanic Players as well as the Playground Theater and ComedySportz, two Chicago-based professional improv comedy groups.
“Improv comedy is a way for Alzheimer’s patients to live in the moment,” said Jordan Gross, president of They Forget, We Remember. “It’s light and fresh and keeps them smiling.”
They Forget, We Remember was co-founded by Weinberg juniors Gross and Will Rosenthal. Both had family members diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and have worked with Alzheimer’s patients as volunteers at Symphony of Evanston, previously known as Mather Pavilion. They saw a void of undergraduate student groups for Alzheimer’s awareness, despite the Alzheimer’s research being done at NU.
“Beyond our personal connection, there was a pressing need for establishing a group on campus,” said Rosenthal, the vice president for finance.
The organization met for the first time in April. Now, the club raises money to increase awareness about Alzheimer’s and members hope to create discussion about a disease that people still know very little about.
Instead of donating funds to a nonprofit organization, They Forget, We Remember gives all money raised to the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the Feinberg School of Medicine to help with its greatest needs.
“Obviously it’s great to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association,” Gross said, “but why not allocate money to the people that need it and effectively use it?”
The CNADC is one of the leading research centers in Alzheimer’s research.
“There’s an apprehension to giving (to nonprofit organizations) because you don’t know where the money’s going to go,” Rosenthal said. “All the money that we raise goes toward financing (CNADC’s) most pressing needs.”
Gross has worked closely with Kevin Connolly, the business administrator at CNADC, and members of They Forget, We Remember have made visits to the center on the Feinberg campus. Speakers from CNADC have also come speak to the club about their own experiences.
“They’re a key part in the education effort of what we try to do,” Rosenthal said.
Though some members of They Forget, We Remember have no previous connection to Alzheimer’s, there are also club members who volunteer at Symphony of Evanston, have been affected by the disease and who work on undergraduate Alzheimer’s research.
Friday’s improv show will hopefully become an annual event, Gross said. In the future, they hope to also put on a concert with musicians from Northwestern, Evanston and Chicago, as music is also beneficial to Alzheimer’s patients.
Rosenthal, who coordinated the performers for the show, said he has found that groups and donors are very supportive of They Forget, We Remember’s mission and want to help.
Communication sophomore Allie Levitan, a member of The Titanic Players, says the group was eager to perform in the show.
“It’s rare that you mix comedy and philanthropy,” Levitan said. “It’s always great when you can give more meaning to something that you already love.”