Edmond resident and owner of Naifeh Fine Jewelry, Valerie Naifeh is to be honored with the Maureen Reagan Award at the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association Memory Gala on April 10.

Valerie Naifeh has shared her talent for creating beautiful jewelry with central Oklahoma for decades, as the owner of Naifeh Fine Jewelry in Oklahoma City. For just as long, the Edmond resident has given of her time, talent and treasures to numerous philanthropic causes.

It is for her constant generosity to The Alzheimer’s Association Oklahoma Chapter through the years that Naifeh is to be honored with the Maureen Reagan Award at the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association Memory Gala on April 10.

“Valerie has been incredibly gracious and generous to us over the years by supporting us through what she’s done with her jewelry, that has allowed us to generate dollars for our auction. And she has always been eager to do that,” said Mark Fried, CEO of the The Alzheimer’s Association Oklahoma Chapter.

As an example, Fried said a spirited bidding war was taking place last year over a piece of jewelry she’d designed especially for the auction. At the last moment, Naifeh offered to make another so both bidders could win.

“Right on the spot, she agreed,” Fried said. “We actually doubled our money.”

A fatal diagnosis

In Oklahoma, 60,000 people live with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the association.

“That many people would fill up the Chesapeake Arena three times,” Fried said. “It’s an overwhelming number.”

Alzheimer’s disease is fatal — it’s the sixth-leading cause of death in America, with about 500,000 people dying each year from the disease and its complications.

And as Baby Boomers turn 65 at a rate of about 10,000 per day, Fried said, it’s clear that the disease could reach epidemic proportions within the next few decades, if a cure is not found.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the private sector’s worldwide leader in Alzheimer’s research and outreach, Fried said.

Learning about Alzheimer’s

Naifeh said she remembers as a child hearing people throw around the term “lost his mind.”