It’s rare when the concept of joy can be authentically connected to that most dreaded of diseases.

If you talk to families dealing with the disease, you’ll often hear anecdotes that can’t help but make you smile, touch your heart, or give you faith in humanity.

A few years ago my 82-year-old mother and love of my life, Norma Holzer, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and, as for so many families in America, ours was thrown into a nightmare of fear, guilt, obligation and confusion.

I quickly discovered that most people are afraid to face, let alone embrace, a situation as abhorrent as Alzheimer’s, and as a result, I was my mom’s designated – make that only – caregiver.

New research says Alzheimer’s disease claimed 500,000 lives last year in America, with more than 5 million victims slowly dying of the disease and 44.4 million people world-wide battling some form of dementia.

Additional research shows that the direct care costs of Alzheimer’s exceed those of cancer and heart disease.

Each of these coalitions is united under the single relentless force of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, dedicated to stopping the disease and caring for those touched by it.

It’s not every day that art can shine light on a disease that embodies every kind of physical and emotional darkness; when it does, the results can be illuminating.

The goal of “My Mom and the Girl” is to raise awareness and shatter stereotypes, all while finding the laughter in one of life’s most challenging turns.