A Kernersville Trove: Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust

By Chelsea Pyne

In 1995, the Sumter, South Carolina Rotary Club wanted to prove that Rotarians voluntarily emptying their pockets of change for a good cause would produce significant levels of funds to support Alzheimer’s disease research. The CART Fund (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust) was the name given to the project, which proved to be highly successful. 

Since, the Rotary Club of Kernersville has made significant progress on the CART Fund initiative. In fact, one idea led to another, and the change gathered from our downtown streets inspired a notion that swept the nation. But first, why was The CART Fund introduced?

Alzheimer’s Impact on the United States has been growing at a staggering rate.

  • The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is growing — and growing fast. An estimated 5.8 million Americans of all ages had Alzheimer’s in 2019. This number includes an estimated 5.6 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s. One in 10 people age 65 and older (10 percent) has Alzheimer’s dementia.
  • Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
  • As the number of older Americans grows rapidly, so too will the number of new and existing cases of Alzheimer’s. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia may grow to a projected 13.8 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow, or cure Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The percentage of people with Alzheimer’s increases with age: 3 percent of people age 65-74, 17 percent of people age 75-84, and 32 percent of people age 85 and older.

So what can be done about AD? Then enters the Rotary Club of Kernersville: Coin Box Project.

It started with Kernersville Rotarian and CART Chairman Tom FitzGerald. His personal experience with the devastation that Alzheimer’s disease causes fueled his desire to help end AD. Tom’s mother-in-law suffered from the disease for fifteen years. Tom explained, “She couldn’t use a spoon or fork. Watching her digression was so heartbreaking… no one should have to go through or witness this ordeal. Almost every family has suffered or knows of individuals inflicted with this disease of ‘the long goodbye.’ It became very important that we do something to prevent Alzheimer’s in our community and beyond.”

Tom has been a Rotarian since 1995 as well as Treasurer of the Kernersville Rotary Club for five years. His next endeavor started when he was asked to chair the CART Fund. “That first year we put 20 coin collection buckets out at the club meeting every Wednesday morning. At the end of that Rotary year we raised $1,042 for CART,” Tom said. At the beginning of Rotary Club year 2018-2019, Tom purchased coin boxes, designed, printed, and installed signage for the boxes in six locations in Kernersville. A month later the Rotary Club of Kernersville purchased another 14 coin boxes and put them out at local restaurants and convenience stores. Tom added, “We soon began raising more money from the coin boxes via external donations than with the donation buckets. At the end of the year we donated $4,140 for CART.” Sixty-six percent of the funds raised to combat AD was funded through loose change that Kernersville residents generously donated.

The Rotary International Club CART program now has many clubs that are implementing the coin box project that originated here in Kernersville and 100% of the proceeds goes to AD research. “This was an especially difficult year with the COVID-19 pandemic causing the club to stop meeting in person in March,” Tom explained. “During 2019-2020 we raised $6,200 that was donated to CART in spite of having almost an entire quarter of virtual meetings where no coin buckets were available for Rotarians to deposit weekly donations. We also had several Kernersville community members make private donations to the cause by making a check out to The Rotary Club of Kernersville with CART in the memo field. Our goal for Rotary year 2020-2021 is to raise $7,000 and I have faith we will prevail.” If you would like to donate to The CART Fund, please visit KernersvilleRotary.org where you can make an online donation or learn other ways of helping AD research.

“We are grateful to the local businesses that allow us to put boxes on their premises. We are excited to be introducing the boxes in Winston Salem as well. I’d like to thank the following businesses, restaurants, and convenient stores who are helping raise money against Alzheimer’s disease–and of course, to all of you who continue to put your change into our boxes.”

Next time you have spare change in your pocket, drop a few coins in a CART box located at the following businesses:

  • 421 Market & Grill
  • Cagney’s Restaurant
  • Clark’s BBQ
  • Express Oil Change
  • Fitz On Main
  • Genuine Car Care
  • Kernersville Ace Hardware
  • Low Price Mart
  • New Era Cleaners
  • Olympic Family Restaurant
  • One Stop, both locations
  • Piedmont Chiropractic Center
  • Prissy Polly’s Barbecue
  • Ridge Care
  • Smiles by Design
  • Solace IT Solutions
  • Transource
  • Vision Eye Care Center

Many individuals who are not members of Rotary have made significant contributions to CART. The single largest contribution to CART was made by a non-Rotarian from western NC who contributed $25,000 in honor of her two sisters who had lost their battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She said she chose CART because she liked the idea that 100% of her donation was going to research, and because she knew that Rotary was an outstanding organization. Memorials and honorariums have also been a source of funds for CART. Numerous individuals have named CART as the charity of choice for memorials honoring loved ones. For more information please visit KernersvilleRotary.org.

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