When a loved one is diagnosed with a terrible disease, it’s natural to get angry. And that’s exactly how Linda Luter felt when she learned in 2008 that her husband, Harold, was suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“I was mad at Alzheimer’s. I was mad at dementia. It’s so cruel, because you lose who you are. You lose your dignity,” the Stillwater resident said. “But anger doesn’t get things done. So I decided to direct those feelings toward something that helps.”
A singer-songwriter, Luter recorded a CD of country music and spoken-word stories to raise money for Alzheimer’s disease research at OMRF.
“Music gives me strength, and I know those dealing with this disease in their families need strength, too,” she said. “I’m just doing what I know how to do.”
Luter’s album is largely dedicated to Harold, who lives in a care facility in Oklahoma City. She drives down to see him several times a week—bringing along her guitar to play for him. What was once an outlet for her frustrations is now a tool. She knows her singing won’t cure her husband, but Luter hopes she can do something to make sure the next generation doesn’t have to feel her hurt.
Her efforts have generated almost $2,000 in proceeds. Those funds have gone to support research at OMRF, where scientists have developed inhibitors that show promise for halting Alzheimer’s disease.
“You can’t let yourself say, ‘I’m just one person,’” Luter said. “We all do what we can, and that’s how you change the world.”
Since its founding in 1946, OMRF has relied on the support of individual donors like Luter. “Many research institutes start with one, big gift from a wealthy donor, but we’re different,” said OMRF Vice President of Development Penny Voss.
“The foundation began with a 77-county fund drive,” said Voss. “Over the years, farmers have pledged profits from wheat fields and students have collected change at football games. OMRF exists because of the generosity of Oklahomans from all walks of life and every corner of the state.”
That tradition lives on today. In 2011, OMRF received more than 10,000 gifts of less than $100. Together, those funds added up to $314,657, all of which went to support research in OMRF’s labs on diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, lupus and heart disease.
“Big or small, every gift matters,” said Voss. “When you add them all up, you’ve created something powerful. OMRF is proof of that.”