The Darrell K Royal Research Fund honors grant winners at annual gala

Reagan Ritterbush

The Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s hosted a gala on Sept. 2 to honor the legacy of the late Coach and to present the 2016 DKR Fund grant winners.

The DKR Fund grant is given out to people for coming up with innovative ways to cure Alzheimer’s. To receive the grant, they must be at the associate professor level at a Texas-based institution and within 12 years of completing their terminal degree. This year’s winners were Lenora J. Volk and Andreana Haley.

“Grants like this take our projects off the ground,” Volk said. “I look forward to sharing our results over the next few years.”

Several organization members were present, including founding Vice Chair Ben Crenshaw and board members Matthew McConaughey and Mike Myers, who made a special presentation to Royal’s widow, Edith, to honor her continued dedication to the organization.

“I love Edith Royal,” DKR Fund board member Rita Hortenstine said. “She is bold and courageous, and her ability to talk about Royal and dedicate her time to finding a cure is astonishing.”

Four years ago, the fund was founded by Darrell and Edith Royal in response to his Alzheimer’s diagnosis and to fund critical research that will bring about medical breakthroughs in the treatment and cure.

“I’ve lived it and breathed it,” said Ava Late, a founding chair of the DKR Fund whose close family members have had the disease. “We need to find a cure.”

Since its founding, the organization has had over 3,000 sponsors and has been able to give out grant money to 16 researchers, who dedicated their lives to finding a cure for cancer. DKR Fund has also had over $30,000 in donations to give to the winners.

“We can’t get enough money to these researchers,” said David Kazen, Darrell and Edith Royal’s grandson. “These are the people who are going to do the research and get to the bottom of this disease.”

At the end of the gala, Crenshaw, Myers and McConaughey took the stage to talk about the work that Edith and they have done to help fight this deadly disease. They spoke about the impact the Royals have had on their road to beat Alzheimer’s.

“They shared the greatest joys of life and some of the darkest,” McConaughey said. “But just the two as a team — always.”