Willow Springs Teen Hits home run for Alzheimer’s research

O Fyi Communitymayabrown2

During Maya Brown’s sophomore year at Southeast Raleigh High School three years ago, a homework assignment from her medical science teacher inspired what would become an annual fundraiser and youth support group for Alzheimer’s disease. The teacher asked students to report on the progress of research and treatment for a disease. Maya chose Alzheimer’s.

“In my research, I learned that over $10 billion a year is spent on cancer and heart disease research,” Maya says. “In comparison, Alzheimer’s disease spends less than 10 percent of that amount. While other people might shake their heads and think, ‘That’s a shame,’ I decided to take action.”Maya met with Laura Gaddis, owner and executive director of The Guardian Angel in Fuquay-Varina, a nonprofit store supporting Alzheimer’s research, and asked for permission to coordinate a Home Run Derby to raise money for the store. Gaddis gave Maya her full support and on Aug. 13, 2011, after months of hard work, Maya pulled off the first annual Home Run Derby.

After the first derby, a friend and mentor encouraged Maya to found The Guardian Angels Youth Group. Its primary goal is to provide young volunteers to work at The Guardian Angel Thrift, which recently opened another store in Apex, and to visit patients suffering from Alzheimer’s at senior assisted living centers.

Now 18 and a freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill, Maya helped coordinate the second annual Home Run Derby in July 2012, and raised almost $600. She has groomed a successor to take over the event, but plans to stay involved. Learn more at guardianangelthrift.org.

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