Updated: Oct 20
Around 15 years ago, the US Postal Service unveiled a stamp dedicated to raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease. The announcement might have seemed straightforward, but the journey to that moment was anything but.
This initiative would not have seen the light of day if not for the relentless efforts of Kathy Siggins and Lynda Everman. Both women had personal experiences, having cared for their husbands afflicted with the disease. Their commitment was evident in the thousands of emails and letters they sent to prominent elected officials. They made countless visits to Congress, navigated the intricate postal bureaucracy, and rallied over 80,000 signatures from across the nation in support of the stamp.
Initially priced at 60 cents, the stamp now sells for 75 cents. By law, after subtracting postage costs and reasonable expenses by the Postal Service (roughly 13-15 cents), the remaining proceeds are funneled to the National Institutes of Health for Alzheimer's research.
Crafted by artist Matt Mahurin, the stamp portrays an older woman grappling with dementia, with a comforting hand on her shoulder symbolizing care and support. The clouds represent the murky waters of Alzheimer’s, but the rays of sunlight are emblematic of the hope that persists.
For those who've watched a loved one battle dementia, the stark contrast of light and shadow, hope and despair, strength, and vulnerability, is all too familiar.
As we approached the close of April 2023, over 10.8 million Alzheimer's awareness stamps were purchased, generating an impressive $1.4 million for research under the National Institute of Health. To grasp the potential of such initiatives, consider this: a cancer research fundraising stamp, which debuted earlier, has garnered more than $90 million in support.
I choose these stamps for all my correspondence, both professional and personal, and urge you to do the same. It's a cost-effective method to elevate the visibility of Alzheimer’s and channel funds toward crucial research.
Let’s come together and stamp out Alzheimer’s disease!
Thank you for reading the blog, here's some more if you like: Is Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease Important?
Domenico Praticò, MD, is the Scott Richards North Star Charitable Foundation Chair for Alzheimer’s Research, Professor and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple, and Professor of Pharmacology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University