Comedian and actor Seth Rogen presented a heartfelt and personal plea for Alzheimer’s research before a Senate hearing Wednesday. The actor’s mother-in-law suffers from the disease and in his brief remarks he tackled the stigma associated with the disease, as well as the lack of funding and support for families who are trying to cope. Rogen’s personal experiences inspired him to form an organization called Hilarity for Charity that focuses on raising money for research and support for families affected while also generating awareness among young people through a college-based events-driven program. Rogen is best known for playing the resident stoner in movies including Pineapple Express, Knocked Up and This Is The End. In fact, the actor poked fun at his résumé while introducing his charity saying:
That’s right. The situation is so dire that it caused me- a lazy, self-involved, generally self-medicated manchild to start an entire charity organization.
Rogen confessed that Alzheimer’s was more important to him than legalizing marijuana and then he explained why:
After forgetting who she and her loved ones were- my mother-in-law a teacher for 35 years then forgot how to speak, feed herself, dress herself and go to the bathroom herself all by the age of 60.
There’s no way to cure prevent or even slow Alzheimer’s, and as Hilarity for Charity notes, the disease afflicts more than 5 million Americans with someone new developing the disease every 68 seconds.
While Rogen joked that he agreed to testify at the hearing in part because he was such a huge House of Cards fan, he made a serious plea to increase funding for research.
Americans whisper the world Alzheimer’s because their government whispers the word Alzheimers and although a whisper is better than the silence that the Alzheimer’s community has been facing for decades, it’s still not enough. It needs to be yelled and screamed to the point that it finally gets the attention and the funding that it deserves and needs.
The personal impact of the diseases is what’s driving Rogen’s advocacy. He’s seen and experienced what it feels like to be alone as a family member of someone afflicted and his advocacy on behalf of the cause is meant to help others feel less alone. That said, House of Cards fan or not, he’s not interested in being chummy for chummy’s sake– the actor responded to a tweet from Senator Mark Kirk commending him for his remarks by questioning why the Senato left the room before he could finish speaking.
.@SenatorKirk pleasure meeting you. Why did you leave before my speech? Just curious.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) February 26, 2014
Speaking to USA Today Robert Edge vice president of public policy for the national Alzheimer’s Association confesses that the goal to be able to prevent and treat someone with Alzheimer’s by 2025 would require at least 2 billion dollars a year in funding, a significant increase from the $484 million currently being spent, and a fraction of the $1.2 trillion dollars a year the disease is expected to cost Medicare and Medicaid by 2050.
Let’s face it, shortsightedness is certainly not a new phenomenon among our legislatures, nor is the desire to “look good” before the constituents. The effort being made by Rogen to leverage his popularity to help eliminate the stigma surrounding the disease and to generate support among a mainstream audience may give them a reason to stop posing for photos and start sincerely paying attention.