Photos by Hedi Rudd

Attendees of the Solomon Carter Fuller Brain Health Celebration, which raises awareness of the disease in the African American community, were greeted by Mr. Esun Morales, who brought Dr. Fuller to life by sharing his story with attendees during the event program. 

The annual event created by the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, is lead by Dr. Fabu Phillis Carter, senior outreach program manager, whose attention to detail is painstaking and intentional. It can be seen in the gifts of seedlings to participants, flowers for committee members and the delicious food that is served. 

The Brunch kicked off with a Health and Wellness Fair for attendees where they could learn more about the work of the research center and meet other partners, including the Dementia Care Research Project and the Gut Permeability Study. 

Rev. Dr. Alex Gee, who is a member of the committee and who is a caregiver to a parent with Alzheimer’s, blessed the food. Gee shared that he has offered testimony to a governing body overseeing funding of federal institutions to challenge them saying “I understand why my mother forgets, but I don’t understand why you all continue to forget that Black people are not in the studies, and you keep funding them.” He explained that it is important that Black people take part in the advocacy of other Black people around Alzheimer’s research. 

The Wisconsin ADRC ranks number 16 among centers that do Alzheimer’s research, and much work has been done by the Gleason team to recruit African American community members. Every year when the brunch is held, it is well attended by study participants, their families and caregivers. Together they create memories and work to ensure those memories stay with their loved ones. 

Music is a significant part of Alzheimer’s care and Dr. Carter made sure to include it in the event’s program. Ms. Mary Henderson and Leotha Stanley lead the room in songs, which included Lift Every Voice and Sing and How I Got Over and got everyone standing and clapping in joy.  After the meal, Phanuel Hammond of the Ghana Association of Madison played the Ghana National Anthem on his trumpet, followed by Adisyn Ado who played a Ghanaian folk song on her viola. These songs welcomed keynote speaker Dr. Thomas Karikari, a scientist at the Clinical Neurochemistry Laboratory at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, who hails from Ghana. 

Dr. Karikari, was introduced by Dr. Carey Gleason who leads the Inclusion of Under-Represented Groups Core at the Wisconsin ADRC. The topic of Dr. Karikari’s keynote was “How can blood tests help improve Alzheimer’s care and treatment for all?” Dr. Karikari is leading the field in the creation of blood-based biomarkers to detect the disease, a game changing contribution. 

“It was nice to have this event named after Dr. Carter Fuller. It’s amazing to think that when it came to the discovery of the beginning of the disease. We were there.” Dr. Karikari shared, referring to the involvement of African Americans in the early days of research and connecting to the current studies in Wisconsin, which have a high participation rate of African Americans. 

Those in attendance also participated in a fun activity where they visited the exhibitors and learned about their work and by doing so were entered in a raffle. Many won fun prizes, including beautiful quilts that were handmade by Mrs. Doris Adam, soaps by Mrs. Catrina Sparkman and hotel stays provided by the Sheraton Hotel. 

The ADRC will next celebrate African American volunteers at a brunch being held June 24 at the Alliant Energy Center. If you are interested in learning more about you can call 608-265-0407 or email