Health & Fitness

Teaching children why grandma can’t recall their name

This gallery of faces was drawn by a group of first graders.
This gallery of faces was drawn by a group of first graders.

Being 10 minutes late to work saved Kent Karosen’s life 16 years ago.

Karosen was the managing director and partner at Cantor Fitzgerald, the Wall Street firm whose offices sat atop the north tower of the World Trade Center when terrorists crashed an airplane into the tower on Sept. 11, 2001, killing 658 of the firm’s almost 1,000 employees.

Since then, Karosen, who was entering the building when the plane hit the tower, has dedicated a good part of his life to helping the families of his co-workers and other groups, including an Alzheimer’s research center.

Karosen, 51, who now lives in Miami Beach, co-wrote a children’s book, “Why Can’t Grandma Remember My Name?” that explores the heartbreak that can happen to a family when confronted with Alzheimer’s, a neurological condition that affects 5.4 million Americans, a number that is expected to nearly triple by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. He co-wrote the book with children’s book writer Chana Stiefel.

“I think it’s a powerful message to people to be able to understand the disease,” said Karosen, who will read from the book and sign it Thursday evening at Williams McCall Gallery in South Beach. “My hope is that a younger audience will have a better understanding of the disease that affects their loved ones.

Karosen is president and CEO of the New York-based Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, which was founded in 1995 by philanthropists David Rockefeller and Zachary Fisher, whose wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Karosen was close with the Fishers.

“I watched her go from dancing on the floor to not being able to speak so it’s something that hit my heart and I wanted to fund the cure for Alzheimer’s,” he said.

It took Karosen and Stiefel about four months to write the book. Elementary school students and Alzheimer’s patients made the artwork for the book, which is structured so the children ask questions about the disease and the Alzheimer’s patients answer the questions through their art.

“It really explains to people, especially younger people, the effect that Alzheimer’s has on, not only the people that go through it, but the family members,” he said.

The book is dedicated to Dr. Paul Greengard, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 2000 and is director of the Fisher Center, and his wife, artist and sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard.

“Creating art gives Alzheimer’s patients autonomy and a sense of dignity in the midst of a disease that often leaves them feeling powerless, ” von Rydingsvard said.

Karosen said he hopes the book will make more people aware of Alzheimer’s and help children understand why their grandparents and other loved ones may not be able to remember their names.

If you go

What: Reading and book signing of Kent Karosen’s book, ‘Why Can’t Grandma Remember My Name?’

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Williams McCall Gallery, 110 Washington Ave., Miami Beach.

Admission: Free, but the book costs $26.99 and all proceeds go toward Alzheimer’s research.

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