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Inspire Napa Valley raises over $1m for Alzheimer’s research

The annual event founded by Kerrin Laz brings together Napa’s top talents and iconic wineries in connection with the Alzheimer’s Association to raise funds to support care and research for those impacted by the disease.

The paddles flew high during the signature auction of the fourth annual Spring Wine Weekend, held at Round Pond Estate in Rutherford, California in May 2023. The charity event is held over a long weekend annually to support Alzheimer’s research.

Inspire founder Kerrin Laz’s mother was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014. After realising that many in her own Napa community had been similarly affected, Laz established Inspire Napa Valley ‘to help support the cause’.

It’s one of the most anticipated events of the year in Napa among attendees and locals. Not only because of the intimate collection of high-profile Napa wineries showcasing their wines – the likes of Screaming Eagle, BOND, Dalla Valle, Bella Oaks, Roy Estate, Venge Vineyards, Macauley, Larkin Wines, Vine Hill Ranch, and Morlet, to name a few – but also for its admirable goal.

Over $1 million was raised this year, bringing the total raised by Laz’s Inspire events to over $5.5 million.

VIPs, who paid $5,000 per ticket, were treated to a welcome dinner on Pritchard Hill on the grounds of Chappellet overlooking Lake Hennessey in St. Helena.

The next day’s events featured a morning seminar and afternoon walk-around wine tasting with icon wines from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Beaulieu Vineyard, Arrow & Branch, Lede Family Wines, Round Pond, Massican, Keplinger and Ad Vivum, among others.

This year, attendees were treated to some inspiring news in what is typically a sobering keynote research update and Q&A session. More than 55 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to rise.

Dr Maria Carrillo, the chief science officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, speculated that in addition to two already approved therapies, there is the potential for a third treatment to be approved by the FDA ‘this year or early next’.

Carrillo explained that advances in understanding the disease’s biological markers had led researchers to think about combination therapies for people with Alzheimer’s.

In addition to the already overwhelming evidence that reducing brain-degenerating Amyloid plaques will slow the disease, ‘a healthy lifestyle, exercise, and the intake of antioxidants in foods and overall balanced nutrition are critical to healthy ageing and risk reduction’ in Alzheimer’s patients, said Carrillo.

In the future, ‘the detection of Amyloid levels is something that will be done with blood testing, much in the way we get our cholesterol levels checked,’ said Carrillo.

‘Today, some neurology clinics are able to offer this to those that present with memory problems. It can help specialists determine if those memory problems are related to Alzheimer’s Disease,’ Carrillo added.

The positivity of the research update, coupled with a break in the rain on 6 May 2023, and welcome sunshine, led to a tremendous showing of support during the main auction event.

At one table, John Gallagher, an avid collector, kicked things off with a $20,000 bid for 26 rare magnums of Napa reds, and later, his cousin Murphy Gallagher, at the same table, bid $25,000 for an epic afternoon with consultant winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown.

John Gallagher noted in an email exchange that while he and Murphy were raising their paddles, credit should be shared among their entire table: ‘We all have a close personal connection to Alzheimer’s and wanted to do our part to support this special event.’

The final ‘Fund a Need’ portion of the event, which followed the live auction and mission moment speaker, Anne Seaver, saw paddles flying to donate after Inspire committee member Samantha Rudd of Rudd Estate offered a pre-evening bid of $30,000 to inspire the room.

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