Despite its debilitating impact, most people don’t think of Alzheimer’s disease until later in life. Seth and Lauren Miller Rogen aim to change that with comedy. The husband-and-wife team created Hilarity for Charity with the goal of raising awareness of Alzheimer’s among Millennials and encouraging support for a cure.
Their message is about to reach a global audience. On October 4, 2017, Netflix signed on as the presenting sponsor of the 2018 Hilarity for Charity variety show. The show will be filmed before a live studio audience in Los Angeles in early 2018, and will be available for streaming throughout the world shortly after that. While the 2018 lineup has yet to be announced, past talent has included Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg and James Franco.
Alzheimer’s is a deeply personal cause for the Rogen family. Lauren’s mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 55. Alzheimer’s is typically seen as a disease of forgetting – characterized by loss of cognitive abilities and the heart-wrenching experience of not recognizing loved ones. Unfortunately, these are only two of the better-known symptoms, as Alzheimer’s affects all aspects of everyday life, turning the familiar into the alien and unknown. Dressing, eating and bathing are activities we take for granted, but which can be beyond the grasp of those affected.
Although Seth and Lauren knew they were not alone in their experience, they soon discovered that very few Millennials talked about Alzheimer’s. They also knew that many of those turning a blind eye now would have to deal with the disease at some point in the future – caring for their loved ones or experiencing it themselves. That’s why they decided to dedicate their time to foster change. That change would be driven by what they do best – entertain people. In 2012, their first production of Hilarity for Charity was launched.
Their annual variety event occurred in October, and one had been scheduled for fall 2017 until Netflix came knocking. The increased exposure and preparation pushed the event into early 2018. In an official announcement, the charity said: “This partnership will mark the first time the Hilarity for Charity Variety Show will be available across the globe. We are continually awed by the growth and impact of HFC. What started as five friends putting on a variety show to raise some money for Alzheimer’s disease has turned into something so much bigger than we ever expected.”
Since its launch, Hilarity for Charity has raised $7 million, with the proceeds used to help fund vital research and in-home care. In the past two years, it has been able to provide more than 200,000 free hours of in-home care, offering assistance to patients and support for over-taxed caregivers. Now that Netflix is on board and their message has a global reach, the charity’s impact is set to grow beyond its founders’ wildest dreams.