For a high school student, Bartram Trail High School senior David Watt has achieved a great deal. Having received top honors for his original play, “Kittery,” at the world’s largest high school theatre festival, Watt is now an award-winning playwright. And he has chosen to use his talents to benefit others as a philanthropist as well.
On Friday, April 3, Watt will host a special showing of “Kittery” to raise funds to help eliminate the illness that inspired it—Alzheimer’s disease.
“We become parents twice — once for our children, and once more for those who raised us,” said Watt, who lost both a grandfather and grandmother to Alzheimer’s disease. “With two affected family members on opposite sides of the east coast, I was able to feel what it was like to be in the center of a caregiving cycle and to be far from it at the same time.”
The recipient of two “Best of Show” awards from both the district and state levels of the 2019 Florida State Thespians theatre competition, “Kittery” explores some of the challenges associated with caring for a loved one with dementia.
“The show is about a daughter who is paid to care for her father because no one else will, and she has troubles financially,” Watt said. “After her brother comes to the house, he sees that she has done a poor job caring for both their father and the home they live in. He then resolves to remove her and put their father in a care center, the only place he believes is secure for him.”
While adding that he hopes for as many people as possible to see the show, Watt said viewer discretion is advised.
“The show is heavily mature. There is strong language and adult content. It is not an easy watch and I feel this is necessary,” he said. “By exposing the worst possible outcomes that disease can bring, I think we as a people can learn to empathize with the ideas of legacy and losing control of one’s fate. These ideas can be intensely personal and cruel. I don’t believe censoring them can do an audience any favors.”
All proceeds from the show will benefit the care, support and research programs of the Alzheimer’s Association as part of the organization’s annual The Longest Day fundraising initiative. Centered around the summer solstice — the day with the most sunlight — The Longest Day encourages Alzheimer’s advocates around the world to combat the darkness of Alzheimer’s through the fundraising activity of their choice. Though the event coincides with Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month in June, fundraising efforts continue throughout the calendar year.
“In Florida alone, there are more than 560,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Carly Wille, The Longest Day development manager for the Central and North Florida Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “What many people don’t realize, however, is that a dementia diagnosis can be life-changing for not only the diagnosed but their loved ones as well. As more than 1 million Floridians are currently caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, it really is crucial that we continue to raise awareness and funds for a cure.”
Watt’s “In Memory of Kittery” fundraiser will take place at 7 p.m., April 3, at Bartram Trail High School, which is located at 7399 Longleaf Pine Parkway in Saint Johns. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased at the door. Donations can also be made directly at https://act.alz.org/site/TR?pg=personal&fr_id=13035&px=17467078.
To learn more about or register for The Longest Day, visit www.alz.org/thelongestday.
Photo provided by Alzheimer’s Association, Florida Region