Alzheimer’s Memory Ball seeks to raise funds with dance competition


For Rose Davis Backus-Hamm, three invitations to dance at the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Maryland Chapter’s annual Memory Ball was enough for her to finally strut her stuff.

The Baltimore native, who has worked as an educator for 35 years and also an actress, is among those chosen to participate in the 10th anniversary of “Dancing Stars” on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel located at 700 Aliceanna Street in Baltimore City.

The 7 p.m. event will feature local “dancing stars” in a competition where their skills on the floor are just as important as the funds raised for the Alzheimer’s Association, according to event organizers in a news release. The announcement of the winner caps off a night of cocktails, dinner and music and the top dancer is decided based on votes that are tied to donations.

The event is the association’s signature fundraiser gala and it helps to raise money to fight the disease.

“Three years ago Ernestine Jolivet asked me to dance at the Memory Ball. She and her husband, Russell had danced at a Memory Ball and my brother-in-law Jerry Hamm and his wife Heather danced in the 2014 Memory Ball and they also asked me to dance,” Backus-Hamm said. “Ernestine asked me again last December, so between the three of them I had to say yes for 2016,” adding that she also wanted to dance in memory of her mother-in-law, Rose Hamm, who died from complications due to Alzheimer’s.

Those seeking to support Backus-Hamm can cast a vote for her or make a donation at:


Janine Norris— To vote for Janine, visit

Among those also competing is Janine Norris, the director of nursing for the Blakehurst Retirement Facility in Towson. A nurse for 24 years, Norris says there is a misconception that those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease have a death sentence.

“They are afraid of being labeled, and slow to seek help. Many times help is not received until judgment and behaviors are affected requiring hospitalization,” Norris said through an event spokesperson. “Negative connotations continue the spiral of the stigma and reduce potential for engagement in treatment. At Blakehurst, they foster hope, encouraging resident empowerment, respect for resident centered care, and inclusivity of family.”

Norris will be dancing the rhumba in hope of erasing the label associated with Alzheimer’s disease, because labels diminish the capacity to see the person beyond the illness, she said. To cast a vote for Norris, visit


Renaye Briscoe— To vote for Renaye, visit

Renaye Briscoe, a retired Social Security Administration employee, was a caregiver for her husband of 30 years before he died due to a debilitating disease. She also took care of her mother, who died from complications with Alzheimer’s.

Briscoe, who said her mom remains a guiding post, plans to dance the jitterbug at the event. A group exercise instructor who excels in Zumba dance exercise, event officials say Briscoe loves spending time with her family, friends and dearest friends. Votes for or

Briscoe can be cast at

Other participants include Barb Clapp, CEO of Clapp Communications; Richard and Susan Sunderland DeFelice; Faith Fiocco of W by Worth; Madeline Grose; Diane Stahl; Brent Weiss and Teresa Yannone.

“Over the last ten years, the Baltimore community has come together to raise nearly $4 million for the Alzheimer’s Association through Memory Ball,” said Kisha James, associate director of special events at the Alzheimer’s Association. “We are honored to have such dedication from the planning committee, our current and past Dancing Stars and all of those who attend the event to support the people we serve in Maryland affected by the disease.”

Proceeds from the Memory Ball funds supportive services of the Alzheimer’s Association and critical research for a world without Alzheimer’s disease. More than five million Americans are living with the disease, with 99,000 in Maryland, and every 67 seconds that number increases by one. Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed.

Backus-Hamm said African-Americans should particularly be concerned.

“It is important as African-Americans that we understand Alzheimer’s affects us disproportionately [more] than any other ethnic group due to vascular disease and diabetes,” she said.

To purchase tickets for the event, vote for the Dancing Stars or for information on sponsorship opportunities, visit: or call 800-272-3900.