Sherry Sharp wants to crush Alzheimer's disease.
“In my mind, I would love it if they came up with a drug to treat it, but ultimately, we want to get rid of it,” she says. “Once the disease gets into the brain, it does damage. There is no reversing what has been done.”
She’s a board member of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, a non-profit that commits 100 percent of its proceeds to funding research into preventing or even reversing the disease. Cure Alzheimer’s has given more than $40 million to the cause since its founding in 2004.
The Goochland County resident wants to add to its coffers through the inaugural Rick Sharp Classic Auction & Golf Tournament, to be held Monday and Tuesday at the Independence Golf Club in Midlothian. The fundraiser auction and reception will be held Monday. The golf tournament follows on Tuesday, with a shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. CarMax is a sponsor for the event.
It’s named in honor of her late husband, CarMax founder Richard Sharp, who died on June 24, 2014 from a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease known as posterior cortical atrophy. It causes a continuous decline in complex visual processing, and can interfere with everyday tasks including reading or being able to tell the difference between something that’s moving or standing still. He was diagnosed with the disease in 2010, but had noticed a decline in functioning five or six years earlier, says Sherry Sharp in a telephone interview.
The Sharps were high school sweethearts in Alexandria. He served in the Air Force, then had his own computer business. Circuit City Stores was a customer, and he eventually went on to serve as that company’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. CarMax grew from Circuit City.
Sharp was a man of vision, a problem-solver and tech whiz, which made it especially tragic when he was coping with progressive loss of function, and was aware of it happening. “It was devastating,” says Sherry Sharp, for someone who was dedicated to “trying to make the world a better place and couldn’t even change his own environment.”
She’d been a caregiver to her husband through his illness. For much of those years, the Sharps were pretty much isolated, she says. “After Richard died, I felt like I’m missing 10 years of my own life,” she says.
Sharp and her husband had considered starting their own nonprofit to battle Alzheimer’s, but met with Cure Alzheimer’s Fund board members in March 2014, and agreed to help with their work. “We just decided we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel,” she says. “We didn’t want to waste any more precious time and money, and we decided to join forces with them.”
He died three months later.
Alzheimer’s is increasingly common: There are 5.4 million Americans with the disease, and the number of cases are expected to triple by 2050 as Baby Boomers age.
”You may not be affected physically, but I can assure that every single one of us will be affected financially in the near future," says Sharp. "It’s going to bankrupt our country.”
“I want a cure so we don’t have folks suffering the effects of having the disease,” she says. “It’s devastating, not only to the victims, but also to the families.”
You can learn about how eugenics and other pseudo-sciences were used to justify the horrors of Hitler’s Germany in the traveling exhibition Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race, on display through July 31 at the Virginia Holocaust Museum, 2000 E. Cary St. It “traces how the persecution of groups deemed biologically inferior led to the near annihilation of European Jewry.” The exhibit is from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and includes reproductions of period documents, photos and other relics.
Dr. Otmar von Verschuer examines twins at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. As the head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute’s Department for Human Heredity, Verschuer, a physician and geneticist, examined hundreds of pairs of twins to study whether criminality, feeble-mindedness, tuberculosis, and cancer were inheritable. In 1927, he recommended the forced sterilization of the “mentally and morally subnormal.” Verschuer typified those academics whose interest in Germany’s “national regeneration” provided motivation for their research.–Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin-Dahlem
COFFEE WITHOUT THE GUILT
Go ahead and enjoy your cup of coffee, even two. Just make sure that it’s not too hot.
That’s your takeaway from a report released on Wednesday by the World Health Organization. A consortium of scientists took a look at coffee and whether it’s a carcinogen. They looked at more than 1,000 studies and found that there is “inadequate evidence” that it is a carcinogen.
They did find a link, though, between cancer and drinking very hot beverages. That’s 149 degrees or hotter. The National Coffee Association recommends brewing coffee at 195 degrees to 205 degrees for optimal flavor, but says you should let it cool before you drink. Good advice.
Fewer teens are smoking cigarettes, though health officials are concerned about the rise in use of electronic vapor products by teens.
Cigarette use is at an all-time low, with 11 percent of teens smoking in 2015, according to the National Youth Risk Behavior Study. But 24 percent of the high school students in the study had used e-cigarette products in the past month.
In its assessment of other risky behaviors, the study found that:
- 42 percent of teens had texted while driving in the past month (the same as reported in 2013)
- 23 percent of teens had been in at least one physical fight in the past 12 months (down from 42 percent reported in the 1991 survey)
- 17 percent of teens reported use of prescription drugs without a prescription (down from 20 percent in 2009)
- 30 percent of teens were sexually active in the past three months (down from 34 percent in 2013)
- Condom use by sexually active teens was at 57 percent (down from 59 percent in 2013, and down from 63 percent in 2003)
- 42 percent of teens reported playing video or computer games for three or more hours per day (it was at 22 percent in 2003)