Apr 30, 2014
12:38 PMHealth & Science
Bracelets Raise Dementia Awareness, Funds for Alzheimer’s Association
Some of the greatest inspiration can be born out of tragedy. That is certainly true for New Britain resident Rebecca Penarroya (below).
It was the struggle of watching her mother slip into dementia that inspired her to raise awareness for the disease that she says is “worse than cancer.”
She decided to create a bracelet to hopefully stand for the cause and raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association.
She launched her company, Pura Mente, which means “pure mind” in Spanish, in December 2013. It centers on a line of jewelry, and a portion of the proceeds from each sale is donated to charity.
The bracelet comes in leather, silver or rhodium-plated silver and features a square Sodalite charm with an inscription on the back that reads “Dementia, find a cure one bracelet at a time.”
Each piece is made in Providence, R.I., by a group of talented artisans, and the braceletes are packaged and shipped out of Penarroya's Connecticut home.
She decided to use a Sodalite stone because it stands for intuitive knowledge and promotes clarity of mind. The square shape was chosen for various meanings, including the four cardinal directions, seasons and phases of human life—birth, childhood, adulthood and death.
The leather bracelet costs $29.99, the silver one costs $59.99 and the rhodium costs $64.99.
Ten percent of the cost of each bracelet is donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. Penarroya has raised $3,000 so far. She hopes to donate a larger percentage of each bracelet's price as the company grows.
Her vision is that one day her bracelets will be “the dementia bracelet” in the way that the pink ribbon is synonymous with breast cancer and the puzzle piece represents Autism.
According to the World Health Organization, dementia is a progressive syndrome that is caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behavior and ability to perform everyday activities.
“It’s a horrible disease,” says Penarroya. “Some days they’re perfectly coherent and other days they’re not.”
That was the case with her mother (right), who was diagnosed with dementia in 2011. Penarroya believes her mother first developed the syndrome six or seven years before her diagnosis. She passed away at age 73.