Last week, friends and family of John Mann, frontman of Spirit of the West, launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for experimental stem cell therapy to treat his early-onset Alzheimer’s. All standard treatments–once covered by Canadian health plans–have proven ineffective.
While there’s no guarantee that stem cell therapy will help, there are few (if any) remaining options.
Music fans have responded. As of Sunday afternoon (December 13), six days into the campaign, 466 people have raised $41,782 on a way to a goal of $50,000 USD. That’s fantastic.
The Vancouver Province did this profile:
“We just look at it and then cry — it’s a little bit like being at your own funeral,” Mann’s wife, actor-writer Jill Daum, said Thursday. “Which is funny, because we’re doing it so that John won’t have a funeral as quickly as otherwise.”
Mann has been on a program of drugs that have improved his condition and enabled him to continue performing, but ultimately those with Alzheimer’s face a shortened lifespan of seven to 10 years after diagnosis. As well, the decline can be faster among those diagnosed at a younger age.
The couple will travel to Mexico in early January for a month of treatments, similar to those that hockey legend Gordie Howe underwent this year to counteract the effects of a stroke. Daum said they had misgivings about asking for help to pay for the treatments, which aren’t eligible for coverage under B.C.’s medical plan, but members of Spirit of the West and Mann’s family launched the online effort.
“I really didn’t want to do this,” Daum said. “It’s a difficult thing — you think why should John be able to go and not anybody else? It’s pretty amazing to be watching this right now, but at the same time it’s heart-wrenching and stunning. We cry a lot.”
If you’re interested in helping out, go here.