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Maryland Balls Raising Alzheimer’s Research Funds

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By DOTTIE KRAMER
The Carroll County Times

UNION BRIDGE, Md. (AP) — Alzheimer’s affects about 5.4 million people in the United States and, as of 2010, about 86,000 people in Maryland, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Next month, three people with Carroll County ties will dance to help raise awareness and money for the Association.

Jane Sewell, a Union Bridge resident and executive director of the Union Mills Homestead, is going to be dancing at the association’s Memory Ball April 13. The following weekend, Mount Airy couple Mary Beth Luber and Ryan Burns will dance at the Forget-Me-Not gala.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior, according to the Alzheimer’s Association website, and is the most common form of dementia.

Caryn Sagal, a public relations consultant for the Alzheimer’s Association, said that the Memory Ball and the Forget-Me-Not gala have very similar premises, with different participants and different locations. Both affairs, held in Baltimore and Frederick, respectively, are major fundraisers for the Alzheimer’s Association and will feature “Dancing with the Stars” style competitions.

Nine couples will be dancing at the Memory Ball and 11 couples at Forget-Me-Not, and will be judged on their technique, Sagal said. The Judge’s Choice Trophy will be presented to the dancer with the best technical skill and a second trophy will go to the dancer who raised the most money for Alzheimer’s research through online voting.

People can vote online at http://www.alz.org/maryland and make a donation.

Sewell, who has been actively involved with the Alzheimer’s Association for quite some time and was co-chair of the Memory Ball from 2009 to 2011, said she has done other types of dance before, but this will be her first foray into ballroom dancing.

“It’s a lot of fun. I’ve been having a blast in rehearsals,” she said.

Sewell will be dancing in memory of her cousin Robert Sargent Shriver, who died after an eight-year battle with Alzheimer’s in January 2011.

Shriver, a Westminster native, married Eunice Kennedy in 1953. He was the first director of the Peace Corps and an ambassador to France.

“It’s really important to me that the connection with my cousin is made; that I’m dancing in his memory,” Sewell said.

Sewell and her partner, professional dancer Matthew Misroch, will perform a number from “Dirty Dancing.”

“She’s emulating Jennifer Gray and he’s emulating Patrick Swayze,” said John McCraw, Sewell’s chorographer and owner of the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Towson where she has been practicing.

McGraw said Sewell is a great dancer, but that she was quick to shoot down doing the famous “Dirty Dancing” lift.

“We have a few tricks up our sleeve,” McCraw said.

Sewell said she was not nervous yet, but she’s sure she will be as the dance comes closer.

As of Tuesday, Sewell had raised $7,150, putting her in fourth place of the nine dancers in total money raised.

Luber, whose parents own an in-home care business called Right at Home, and Burns, who works for Right at Home, will be performing at the Forget-Me-Not Gala. So far, the couple has raised $553 toward their $3,500 goal, according to the Alzheimer’s Association website.

Luber is a gerontology — the study of aging — major at Hood College in Frederick. Burns became involved with the Alzheimer’s Association this year after losing his great-grandfather to dementia.

“I’m not too nervous to dance,” Burns said. “I’m confident that that our instructor will teach us well.”

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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