Actress Marcia Gay Harden urges Congress to boost Alzheimer's funding
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Academy Award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden testified before Congress on Tuesday at a hearing on Alzheimer's disease, urging lawmakers to invest more money in research and prevention efforts. 

“It is my prayer that with your help, advocacy, and funding, this generation is able to celebrate the first survivor of Alzheimer’s disease,” Harden said at the hearing, hosted by the Senate Aging Committee.

Around 1,200 Alzheimer’s advocates flooded onto Capitol Hill on Tuesday to lobby their lawmakers on behalf of legislation to improve care.

The advocates are in town for the 30th Alzheimer Association annual forum, where people from across the country come to Washington to mobilize and discuss the latest in Alzheimer’s research.


Harden is a member of the association. 

The hearing room was filled with purple: there were about 200 advocates adorned in purple and many of the lawmakers on the committee wore purple suits.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRosenstein faces Trump showdown Kavanaugh: I'm asking for a 'fair process' Collins: Second Kavanaugh accuser should speak with Senate panel under oath  MORE (R-Maine), a longtime advocate for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, spoke about the symbolism of her purple clothes. 

“Many of you will recognize this suit who have been here before,” Collins said. “I bought it 15 years ago and I swore I would not retire it until we had better treatments or a cure for Alzheimer’s.”

“It’s woefully out of style and I’m really sick of it so let’s get on with the job,” she added.

At the beginning of the hearing, Collins said there were 37 co-sponsors for the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, legislation focused on early detection and prevention of Alzheimer's. 

By the end of the hearing, she announced there were 40, with Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyThis week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos Doug Jones to McConnell: Don't 'plow right through' with Kavanaugh The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh MORE (D-Ind.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandKamala Harris calls for Senate to protect Mueller probe as Rosenstein faces potential dismissal This week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos Gillibrand calls for Kavanaugh nomination to be withdrawn MORE (D-N.Y.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan senators unveil proposal to crack down on surprise medical bills Multiple NFL players continue on-field protests during national anthem MORE (D-Colo.) signing on.

The witnesses and lawmakers shared their personal connections to the cause. 

“I don’t have to show signs of breast cancer to get a mammogram,” Harden said. “Maybe [Alzheimer’s detection] becomes something so commonplace we don’t need to ask.” 

Alzheimer's Association advocates are lobbying for an additional $425 million for Alzheimer's and dementia research at the National Institutes of Health for fiscal 2019, and for passage of the BOLD Act, and the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act.  

"Within the room itself, there was an emotional understanding that only comes from being heard. People had flown from all over the United States for that very reason, to be heard," said Harden about the hearing.

"I loved seeing the process, it was a very civilized and yet encompassing bipartisan process, wherein our elected officials did their duty to the American people, rather than their personal parties.”