Dave Roth, a Broadway musician who is currently a percussionist for the Broadway revival of "Evita," lost his grandmother to Alzheimer's more than 30 years ago and recently found out that both of his parents are suffering from the disease. Now Roth is using his personal experience, combined with a love of music, to provide help to others struggling with Alzheimer's.
This month, Roth announced the first annual United Broadway Artists iPod Drive to bring the gift of music to those suffering with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. New Yorkers are asked to donate their used iPods, other Apple listening devices, and chargers, which will go to the institutions and facilities that assist with their care. Roth's initiative is receiving support from the organization Music & Memory, as well as the Broadway Green Alliance.
Supporters can drop off their donations at the Electronic Waste Collection Drive on Wednesday, July 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Duffy Square in Manhattan, at Broadway and 46th Street.
Donations can also be dropped off or sent to: Broadway Alzheimer's iPod Drive, Alzheimer's Association NYC Chapter, 360 Lexington Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10017; or Broadway Alzheimer's iPod Drive, American Federation of Musicians Local 802, Public Relations Office, 322 W. 48th St., New York, NY 10036. Donations will be accepted until Aug. 19.
Roth says he was inspired to action after a screening of Michael Rossato-Bennett's documentary "Alive Inside," which follows Dan Cohen, a New York City social worker who has spent nearly a decade introducing iPods into care facilities.
"[Cohen] specifically targets music that speaks to that particular patient in an effort to recall memories and emotions from their past," Roth explains in his introduction to the iPod drive. "The results are absolutely astounding! Patients who are in a detached or catatonic state are awakened and move, sing and even converse about what they are experiencing through the music. Of course, as a musician I’m not surprised by the power of the music, but seeing it first-hand is still incredibly moving and inspiring.
"Through the documentary, Dan related the frustration of trying to convince these institutions to spend a minuscule amount of money on listening devices only to find they were much more inclined to spend thousands on psychotropic drugs to sedate these patients. That really resonated with me. I knew that there was something I could do, and more importantly something my community of fellow musicians and artists could do... So many of us have old iPods sitting in drawers collecting dust at home. These are tools that can awaken people who are crying out in their own darkness."
Roth is also an Alzheimer's Association ambassador for New York's 14th congressional district, acting as a liaison between Representative Carolyn Maloney and her constituents for all topics related to Alzheimer's.
For more information, visit the Broadway Alzheimer's iPod Drive Facebook page.