Better Makers: 32nd Annual Chicago Rita Hayworth Gala Raises $1 Million for Alzheimer’s Association

Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States will develop Alzheimer’s disease — a progressive, irreversible brain disorder that slowly deteriorates healthy brain cells.

Alzheimer’s disease is not just memory loss. It’s the out-of-body experience of being robbed of one’s ability to be mentally and physically present. Dementia does not classify as a disease, but describes the symptoms associated with memory loss and motor skill decline. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.

As the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., Alzheimer’s kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Each year, hundreds of supporters unite for a magical evening that brings us one step closer to unlocking a world without Alzheimer’s disease. The 32nd annual Alzheimer’s Association Chicago Rita Hayworth Gala was held May 4 at the Hilton Chicago. Themed “The Key to Our Future,” after the Pont des Arts in Paris — also known as the Love Lock Bridge — the evening raised more than $1 million for the critical work of the Alzheimer’s Association, including research, care, and support programs.

Led by longtime supporters and co-chairs the Murphy family — Dan J. Murphy Jr., JoAnn Murphy, Dan Murphy III, and Jim Murphy — the gala is one of the Alzheimer’s Association’s marquee fundraising events. Alzheimer’s hits close to home for the Murphys as Dan Jr.’s mother suffered from Alzheimer’s, passing away in 2011.

Each year, the gala recognizes individuals who’ve been personally touched by the neurodegenerative disease and are working tirelessly to use their platform to raise awareness, provide support, and find a cure.

The “Legacy Award” honored Joan and Paul Rubschlager, Zenith Society members — the Alzheimer’s Association’s highest and most involved level of philanthropy — for their generous contributions throughout the years. In 2012, the Rubschlagers contributed $1 million to the Alzheimer’s Association’s global research program. Most recently, they made momentous contributions in support of U.S. Pointer, A Lifestyle Intervention Trial to Support Brain Health and Prevent Cognitive Decline.

The “Caregiver Award” honored Jay Allen and his family, including his father, Joseph Rich, and his sisters, Amber Rich and Casandra Robertson. Allen is known for his 2018 hit song “Blank Stares,” inspired by his mother, Sherry Rich, who passed away from Alzheimer’s. Allen’s story has been featured in People, Forbes, ABC World Nightly News, and Pickler & Ben.

The elegant and inspiring evening featured a cocktail reception; a three-course dinner by Hilton’s Executive Chef Mario Garcia; a recognition and tribute awards program; live and silent auctions; and a live performance from Allen. ABC7 news anchor Alan Krashesky served as the emcee for the evening.

Princess Yasmin Aga Khan — a philanthropist known for raising public awareness around Alzheimer’s disease — founded the Rita Hayworth Gala to pay tribute to her mother, Rita Hayworth, who lived with Alzheimer’s disease for many years. Under Khan’s leadership, more than $77 million has been raised through the Chicago and New York Rita Hayworth Galas for the Alzheimer’s Association’s research, care, and support programs.

Underwritten by Rolex, this year’s gala was made possible thanks to the dedication and support of volunteers, including members of the Gala Steering Committee, the Young Champions Committee, presenting sponsors Joan and Paul Rubschlager, and media sponsor Chicago Magazine.

The 2020 Chicago Rita Hayworth Gala will be held on May 9, 2020.

Alzheimer's Association: Harry Johns, Princess Yasmin, Jay Allen, Amber Rich, Kylie Morgan, Casandra Robertson and Evan Robertson
Left to Right: Harry Johns, Princess Yasmin, Jay Allen, Amber Rich, Kylie Morgan, Casandra Robertson and Evan Robertson
Alzheimer's Association: Paul and Joan Rubschlager
Paul and Joan Rubschlager (Legacy Award Recipients)
Alzheimer's Association: Jim, Dan Jr., JoAnn and Dan III Murphy
Left to Right: Jim, Dan Jr., JoAnn and Dan III Murphy (Co-Chairs)
Alzheimer's Association: Deborah Pearce, Laura Putman, Leah Costantino and Peggy Jacober
Deborah Pearce, Laura Putman, Leah Costantino and Peggy Jacober
Alzheimer's Association: Harry Johns, Betsy and Dave Goltermann
Left to Right: Harry Johns (President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association), and Betsy and Dave Goltermann
Alzheimer's Association: Jim and Susan Draddy and son
Jim and Susan Draddy and son

Emily Stone earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work has been published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.