The Donor: Lynn Posluns
The Gift: Raising $5-million
The Cause: Women’s Brain Health Research Fund
The Reason: To fund research into dementia
Like many people over the age of 50, Lynn Posluns finds herself forgetting things occasionally. But then she heard something that gave her a scare.
“I heard a statistic that 70 per cent of the Alzheimer’s patients are women and no one knows why,” Ms. Posluns recalled from her office in Toronto. “It is a little bit frightening when you are starting to forget things and you don’t know if this is the natural course of the aging process.”
Ms. Posluns has been a long-time volunteer with Toronto’s Baycrest Centre, which specializes in aging issues, and she began asking some of the researchers if anyone was focusing on women’s brain health. “They said no one in the world is really focusing on the differences between men and women in terms of brain health as they age,” she said. “I said, ‘Well I think I would like to try and raise funds to have scientists look at the gender issues.’ ”
She launched the Women’s Brain Health Research Fund in 2009 just as the recession took hold and dried up a lot of charitable giving. Despite the challenges, Ms. Posluns has managed to raise nearly $2-million so far and hopes to raise $5-million within three years. The money will be used to fund a research chair at Baycrest.
She’s also helping organize a conference in Toronto this October on women’s brain health. The one-day gathering will feature several researchers and actor Hilary Swank, a women’s health advocate.
Ms. Posluns said she has been struck by the interest in her cause. “This is obviously something that resonates for both men and women,” she said.
A former president of clothing retailer Fairweather, Ms. Posluns now devotes much of her spare time to raising money for the research fund. And she doesn’t plan to stop. “I sort of fell into this accidentally,” she said. “But I think this is going to be the next breast cancer movement. More and more people are going to need to get on to this because more and more women are going to be affected by it.”