Tony Awards Recognize David Hyde Pierce's Work Fighting Alzheimer's Disease
Dad and I happened to tune into the Tony Awards. Amid watching the wonderful musical performances and hearing heart-felt speeches, there was one especially moving moment. David Hyde Pierce, the actor who is best known for his portrayal of Dr. Niles Crane on the TV show “Frasier”, was recognized as the Isabelle Stevenson Award recipient by his former co-star, Kelsey Grammar. You could see both men getting a little emotional; I believe that the emotion of the moment was caused both by their great friendship and also by the recognition of Pierce’s tireless work fighting Alzheimer’s by the theatre community.
According to Playbill.com, the Isabelle Stevenson Award recognizes an individual from the theatre community "who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations, regardless of whether such organizations relate to the theatre."
Pierce, who serves on the national board of the Alzheimer’s Association, lost his grandfather and father to dementia. He initially became involved with the group through agreeing to sign autographs at an Alzheimer’s Memory Walk, but then got involved in testifying to Congress along with Maureen Reagan. “Unlike a lot of celebrity spokespeople, David has been - for us - he has been the primary person who has changed the understanding and perception of Alzheimer's disease on behalf of the Alzheimer's Association,” said Alzheimer’s Association CEO Harry Johns in an interview on Broadway.com. “He has touched and affected many lived. I know he's done so much in his career - but he has done that in so many additional ways as a volunteer and touching lives and helping us as an advocate.”
Explaining his work with the Alzheimer’s Association in an interview on Broadway.com, Pierce said, “You know, when you lose someone to Alzheimer's - I lost my grandfather to the disease and my dad to a form of dementia that may have been Alzheimer's - when you start working with people in the organization you realize you aren't alone. You start to realize you are fighting for them and something is being done. There is a sense of hope.”
The actor also described how involvement with the association has influenced him. “We never know what someone else is going through. You see someone walking down the street and you have no idea what is happening in their life,” Pierce said. “The Alzheimer's Association helped me understand that you have no idea what is happening in someone else's life. When you see people and the children of people with Alzheimer's and what they have to live with - what their day is like, what their life is like, the difference between what they thought their life would be and what this diagnosis has turned it into. The disease just steps into their lives and turns everything upside down. I just think that it's probably true for anything like this in life - it opens us up to how blind we are to what goes on around us. Certainly I know that one of my main jobs is raising awareness. Letting the people who haven't gone through what my family has gone through know what's out there and how terrible this is so they will join the club.”
We need more people to follow Pierce’s example and become actively involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Have you joined the battle yet?