Today, an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and out of the top 10 causes of death in America, Alzheimer’s disease is the only one that cannot be prevented or cured.

To help raise money to find a cure, the third annual Grand Purple Gala took place at the Hamilton Ballroom, Lancaster, on Oct. 13. Proceeds of this lively, one-night event benefited the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, a major fundraising event for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Co-chairs Catherine Chilcoat and Coleen Frazier, with the help of volunteer coordinator Mary Lawhead and silent auction coordinator Julie Ehrgood, began hosting the Grand Purple Gala in 2015 to benefit the Walk to End Alzheimer’s while having a night of food, education, and dancing. Jean Engard, president of Comfort Keepers, has agreed to chair the next Grand Purple Gala in 2018.

The evening kicked off with a cocktail hour followed by dinner and a presentation emceed by Patsy Sympson, host on Fun 101.3 FM.

After dinner, Marisa Witmer, the Franklin & Marshall College student recognized with the Angel of Alzheimer’s Award in 2016, gave the keynote address.

Witmer spoke about her study on the diabetes medication Metformin and its connection with Alzheimer’s. Witmer won the grand champion prize in the North Museum & Science Engineering Fair for her research.

The 2017 Angel of Alzheimer’s Award was presented to Mary Howard Reed, a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association.

This year, the Grand Purple Gala carried a masquerade theme, and guests were encouraged to dress up and participate in a costume competition. An engaging rendition of “My Girl,” led by 2010 PA State Senior Idol winner Chris Poje, got everyone up and dancing the rest of the night.

A silent auction and raffle went on throughout the evening with prizes from spas, restaurants, retail stores, and more.

If you missed out on the Grand Purple Gala this year, don’t worry—it will be back in 2018. For more information, visit

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