Family hosts memorial fundraiser for The Bluefield Project

Betsy Hall wasn’t sure she’d meet her ambitious goal of raising $5,000 in honor of her mother, Mary Hall, who passed away from frontotemporal dementia (FTD) in March 2013, when she began organizing the Mary Hall Memorial Benefit to Cure Dementia early this year.

“Our goal was really to get people in the door to support FTD research. When it turned out that 120 people bought tickets and we raised more than double our original goal, we were completely shocked!” said Ms. Hall, whose efforts raised $10,004 for the Bluefield Project to Cure FTD.

Ms. Hall’s mother, grandmother and other relatives passed away from an inherited form of FTD. Mary Hall, Ms. Hall’s mother, was a devoted wife, mother to five children and grandmother to five grandchildren. She volunteered extensively in her community and also worked as a school nurse, taking care of countless children over the years. In 2008, at age 56 and after a long period of uninformative tests, she was diagnosed with a form of FTD called primary progressive aphasia. Tragically, Mary Hall’s mother, Margaret Flanagan, was also diagnosed with FTD at about the same time. Ms. Flanagan passed away eight months after her daughter, in November 2013.

Determined to help efforts to find a cure, Ms. Hall and her sister, Heidi Hall, raised over $5000 for The Bluefield Project last year by running the Pittsburg marathon in honor of their mother. After consulting friends with experience fundraising for other causes, Ms. Hall decided to organize a benefit dinner and raffle this year.

The inaugural Mary Hall Memorial Benefit to Cure Dementia was held on April 26, 2014 at the Lamplighter restaurant in Delmont, PA. A Memory Board featured photos and stories of Mary Hall, Ms. Flanagan, and four other loved ones afflicted with FTD. Guests enjoyed music from “The Bricks,” which was a favorite band of Mary Hall and her husband. Band members donated their services, as did many local restaurants and businesses, which donated over 35 prizes for a raffle. “My Mom always put herself second, touched a lot of people, and our community has been so supportive of our efforts to find a cure for the disease that took her way too soon,” said Ms. Hall.

Guests were treated to Mary Hall’s legendary fudge as a parting gift, made by Ms. Hall’s sister, Christina, who flew in from Arizona for the event. Brochures highlighting the efforts of Bluefield Project investigators were also available for guests to learn more about FTD.

Ms. Hall is already planning the second Mary Hall Memorial Benefit, tentatively scheduled for Spring 2015. Her efforts, as well as her family’s story, can be found at their website, “Penny for Their Thoughts.