My Dad passed away December 14, 2010 after a 6 year battle with Alzheimer's. My sister Diane and I have been involved with the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative for the past 5 1/2 years, and I can't think of a more grass roots, completely volunteer organization that has touched my life more. PLEASE, go check out this site TODAY!! The Philanthroper
Here is Ami's story:
“My mom had Alzheimer’s...watching somebody you love disappear, one skill at a time, is really hard. I got really angry and really frustrated at the disease and I wanted to do something, but I didn’t have the skills to sit in a lab somewhere and cure it.
“But I’m a quilter.”
That’s Ami Simms, she’s a professional quilter and the founder of Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI). Before you assume that quilts have nothing to do with a neurodegenerative disease, know that since 2006, working solely with unpaid volunteers operating out of their homes, the AAQI has raised over $500,000 for Alzheimer’s research.
“I thought we could raise some money making small sized quilts we could sell,” Simms explains, which is the basic principle behind the AAQI's chief fundraising outlet, the Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilt Project.
Volunteers sew quilts as large as 9”x12”—not your typical big bed quilt, but a small square that can be fit in a Priority Mail envelope and mailed to the AAQI’s central operations. Then through online and traveling sales, these quilts commonly sell anywhere from $25 to $125 with all profits going toward the study of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers can submit grant applications on the AAQI’s site, which are reviewed and awarded by an internal scientific advisory board. But these grants come with a stipulation—they can only fund the direct costs of research. Or as Simms puts it, “We’re gonna buy test tubes; we’re gonna pay researchers' salaries.”
The AAQI has awarded several grants, but their recent contribution of $30,000 to a University of Michigan study has already garnered some promising findings regarding the “cleansing” of the disease's trademark amyloid plaques.
Indeed, it's a bit odd to donate funds to any group that ultimately only exists to raise funds for another group, but if the AAQI has proven anything, it's that their stitched niche is highly effective and stunningly equitable. They amplify their resources while operating with an essentially nonexistent overhead.
“With quilting, some people think of little old ladies,” Simms explains. “But quilters are cutting edge. And there’s a boatload of us. “