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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Student organizes talent show to raise funds for Alzheimer’s CURE Foundation

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Event aims to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s CURE Foundation

KINGSTON, R.I. – November 18, 2008 – To most of her friends, Gessie Belizaire is a soft-spoken, determined and reliable young woman. What they may not realize is that she also is a soulful R&B singer who loves to take the stage and perform.

Belizaire, a senior from North Providence, knows there are other students on campus with their own hidden talents, and she wants to shine the spotlight on those individuals. With that in mind, she has organized “A Tribute to the Memories… A Race for the Cure,” a talent show that will raise money for the Alzheimer’s CURE Foundation, Inc. in Providence. Sponsored by URI Housing and Residential Life, the show will be held in the Memorial Union Ballroom on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m.

“This is a culmination of the many talents that can be found on this campus,” said Belizaire, a senior majoring in African and Afro-American Studies, with a minor in sociology. “I think people would be surprised at just how talented the students here can be.”

Belizaire is interning as the Program Director at URI for the Alzheimer's Scholarship Challenge, a program created by the Alzheimer's CURE Foundation, Inc. Effie-Marie Lascarides, founder and president of the Alzheimer’s CURE Foundation, said 5 percent of the funds raised by participating students are given back to each participating school in the form of a scholarship that is awarded to a student who is studying or will follow a discipline that will in some way benefit Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases. For more about the organization, visit www.alzcure.org.

Belizaire wants to raise awareness of how the disease affects lives. Growing up as a child, Belizaire spent extensive time with her mother, Gesly Belizaire, who works with elderly citizens in nursing homes, many of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia. By organizing the talent show, Belizaire – who is a resident assistant in Merrow Hall – is combining two passions.


“I have been in and around nursing homes for a long time, and I’ve seen how much it impacts those who suffer, as well as the people close to them,” Belizaire said. “It is sad, but it can also be happy in those moments when they do remember their lives and their families.”

In addition to performing, Belizaire has a wide range of talents booked for the show, including bands, dance troupes, singers, rappers, spoken word performers and more. There are 12 acts set to perform, with room for more, if students are interested.

Unlike most talent shows, this event is not a competition, but rather a showcase for appreciation.

“The show is really the culmination of people’s talents coming together, and giving people a chance to come into their own,” Belizaire said. “That is what college has done for me. People want to know how they can help. Just by showing up and supporting the talents or the cause can help.”

In preparing for the event, Belizaire worked closely with Thomas Dougan, vice president for Student Affairs, and Michael Lapointe, from Housing and Residential Life.

“There is a lot of hard work that goes into an event like this, but there has been a lot of support from different people,” Belizaire said.

Tickets for the show are $10 for non-students and $5 for students, and may be purchased at the door. To inquire about tickets or participating in the show, contact Belizaire at either 401.419.3395 or gessie@yahoo.com.