$1 Million Challenge Grant from Liz + Randal Sandler

“What keeps us driven is the prospect to do something for our children and, eventually, their children. To increase the likelihood that they will never have to deal so helplessly with this horrific disease – That is now our mission.” – Liz and Randal Sandler

The mission of the ADDF and curing Alzheimer's is our passion. For us, as is the case with many of you, Alzheimer’s has been intensely personal and painful.

Liz’s mother, Rosemary Furman, was a smart, dynamic, intellectually curious woman who lived every day to the fullest. Here was a woman who got her law degree when she was in her 40s and then used it to help those most in need, specializing in victims’ rights and first amendment cases. She was a driven philanthropist, and she would be most proud of the counseling center that bears her name at Barnard College. Unfortunately, she was never really able to see and comprehend the impact it is having on the student population. Early onset Alzheimer’s eventually robbed her of her vitality and cognitive abilities in a way that was so cruel and incomprehensible in its progression. She died four years ago at the young age of 72.

My mother, Jackie Sandler, is 82, was diagnosed in her 70s, and has slowly declined over the years. Her twin sister has also been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My mom is a remarkably strong woman, who not only taught her four sons an unbelievable drive and determination but also instilled an inner confidence that is still a beacon for us. She lived for her boys. But if she could see herself now, she’d quite honestly abhor it. There is still a vague recognition of who we are, but she’s a shell of her former self. She will not see her grandchildren’s graduations, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and weddings. I will not get the chance to properly share my success and return the favor for everything she did for me. Again, cruel and incomprehensible.

There’s nothing Liz and I can do at this point for our mothers. But what keeps us driven is the prospect to do something for our children and, eventually, their children. To increase the likelihood that they will never have to deal so helplessly with this horrific disease – That is now our mission.

Quite simply, we believe the ADDF is our best chance of putting us on a path for a cure. But we want to do more. The Program to Accelerate Clinical Trials of Drugs for Mild Cognitive Impairment has the potential to make a significant impact on the field of Alzheimer’s drug development in a relatively short period of time, at a modest cost and with reduced risk.

In the hope that we can make a bigger splash, Liz and I are announcing a $1 million challenge grant if the ADDF can raise another $3 million toward this program in the next year. There are compelling reasons to be optimistic that a major breakthrough or cure is within our reach, and we are hoping that this grant will steepen the trajectory of our progress toward a cure. Every minute is important to us and every dollar counts in a fight against a disease that, too many of you know, is cruel and incomprehensible. Thank you for joining us in this fight.

Excerpted from Randal Sandler’s speech at ADDF’s Fourth Annual Luncheon & Symposium on September 17, 2013, where Liz and Randal Sandler were presented with The Charles Evans Award. The Sandlers have generously pledged $1 million to the ADDF to support a new initiative to accelerate clinical trials of drugs currently used to treat other diseases that are repurposed for Mild Cognitive Impairment—now recognized as the earliest clinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease. As part of their pledge, Liz and Randal are challenging other individuals, corporations, and foundations to partner with the ADDF to raise an additional $3 million for clinical trials by 2014.

To learn more about participating in the challenge, please contact Nancy Sanford, ADDF’s Vice President and Chief Philanthropy officer, at 212-901-8006 or nsanford@alzdiscovery.org.

The ADDF is grateful to the following donors of $25,000 or more who have responded to The Sandler Challenge to date:

  • The Charles Evans Foundation
  •         Mrs. Bonnie Pfeifer Evans, Co-Trustee
  •         Mrs. Alice Shure, Co-Trustee
  • Mr. Eli Jacobs
  • McCaffrey Family Fund
  • Barbara and Ray Dalio
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