Accounting Industry Leadership Council formed to support Alzheimer’s Association

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Prager Metis CPAs LLC, a Top 100 Firm in New York, is teaming up with the Alzheimer’s Association to create an Accounting Industry Leadership Council with the goal of inviting more accounting firms to join efforts like the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s and raise awareness of the disease that afflicts millions of Americans.

“Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia,” said Rob Lucas, director of corporate initiatives at the Alzheimer’s Association. “That’s our main goal. We lead the way by accelerating global research. We're the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research in the world, driving risk reduction and early detection, which can make a huge difference, and then maximizing quality care and support. It’s not just the over 5 million people living with the disease, but the 16 million unpaid caregivers who are providing support for their loved ones, and then also the friends and families who are affected by this, which numbers in the many tens of millions. We have our work cut out for us, and that’s why this initiative is so important.”

Peter Scalise, federal tax credits & incentives practice leader at Prager Metis, got involved in the Alzheimer’s Association after seeing some of his loved ones suffering from the disease. Scalise, who is also an Accounting Today contributor, led the firm’s involvement in the annual Walk To End Alzheimer’s event. But he wondered why larger firms weren’t involved in the cause, even though many are active supporters of other charities. He is now chairing the Accounting Industry Leadership Council.

“Charitable fundraising and supporting philanthropy is a fundamental part of the core culture within the CPA community amongst firms of all sizes nationwide, and I am truly honored to serve as the founding chairman of the Alzheimer’s Association’s newly formed Accounting Industry Leadership Council in an effort to increase awareness and raise funds to identify a cure for the sixth leading cause of death within the United States,” he said.

He hopes to bring the entire CPA community together nationwide to fight Alzheimer’s. “Accounting firms support philanthropy on a very large scale,” said Scalise. “I spent 15 years working for the Big Four firms, and I know we were involved with dozens of philanthropic efforts. If you look at what Prager Metis has been doing, last year raising over $250,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association, it really shows commitment, that members of the CPA community want to get involved and make a difference in their local communities. Since Alzheimer’s touches so many in our nation, that’s really why Rob and I said to ourselves let’s get the entire industry together as one to create better awareness and start the fundraising efforts on a large scale.”

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is usually held in late summer into the fall and is the Alzheimer’s Association’s main fundraising event. It’s held in over 600 communities around the U.S., attracting over half a million participants. Last year, the event raised over $98 million, an all-time record for the Alzheimer’s Association. “We’re all very proud of that,” said Scalise. “I’m a former walk chairman for Manhattan and sponsorship chairman, and I was involved with the logistics of handling these walks over the years. It’s just an amazing group of people to interact with, from the local volunteers to the local staff to the national leadership team that makes everything come together.”

He and Lucas hope to encourage more accounting firms to form local teams to join the walk and help raise funds to support Alzheimer’s treatment and research. “What Prager Metis did was they became a National Team,” said Lucas. “It’s not sponsorship. We’re not asking an accounting firm to sponsor an event from a corporate commitment standpoint. What we’re asking is to simply provide their CPAs, associates and clients who are passionate about this mission to join their company team and participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and help us make a meaningful difference.”

Alzheimer’s is one of the more expensive diseases afflicting the country, costing the nation an estimated $290 billion a year and projected to cost $1.1 trillion by 2050. It’s a particular burden on caregivers, many of whom are in the so-called “sandwich generation,” taking care of aging parents while also raising and supporting their children. The Alzheimer’s Association operates a hotline at (800) 272-3900 where anyone can call 24/7 for support and advice.

Participating in a charity like the Alzheimer’s Association has helped Prager Metis attract a younger generation of accountants, like millennials who want to give back to their communities and support worthwhile causes, while helping family members and clients who may be showing signs of dementia receive the care and support offered by the Alzheimer’s Association.

“That’s why we’re launching this leadership council and that’s why we want accounting firms to join us,” said Lucas. “They can help their clients. A lot of CPAs will see their clients once a year at tax time. Over time, they may potentially see clients with the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia. They may see that ‘something’s up’ moment. CPA firms can provide the resources that we provide free of charge to the American public to help their clients and their family members, and build a more holistic relationship with that family.”

For more information about the Accounting Industry Leadership Council, click here.

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