Two Lifelong Dreams Fulfilled in One Night; 93-Year-Old Dances with Pro from Dancing with the Stars, Employee Sings with David Foster at Leeza Gibbons' Dare2Care Oscar Week Gala

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- This Thursday, during Leeza Gibbon's Dare2Care pre-Oscar party, two lifelong wishes will be awarded and fulfilled. Brookdale Senior Living, a partner of the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation, will have an associate's and a resident's dream come true.

Kristi Cawley, vice president of field sales and marketing for Brookdale, will be singing a song inspired by a resident accompanied on piano by Grammy award winner David Foster . Also, Clarita Kern, a 93-year-old resident of Brookdale community, Ocean House, will be dancing with "Dancing with the Stars" pro dancer Tony Dovolani.

Cawley's song, "Did She Dance" captures the loss from Alzheimer 's disease, and was inspired by a resident encounter while working her "day" job in the senior living industry.

In 2001, while visiting a senior living community in Georgia as part of her job, she was drawn to one of the residents. The resident's eyes lit up when Cawley entered the building. She reminded Cawley of her own grandmother, who delighted her with stories and demonstrated how to dance the Charleston. 

Drawn to the woman and the treasure of her stories, Cawley approached her. When she tried to talk with the woman, however, she realized that the woman suffered from Alzheimer's, and would be unable to share any memories or stories.

"Although I had observed this disease often through work and even had members of my own family experience this horrific diagnosis, at that moment the absolute loss that Alzheimer's so mercilessly imparts became painfully clear," said Cawley. "While driving home, the words and music to 'Did She Dance' came to me."

Cawley has always dreamed to perform the song in front of music industry leaders and her ultimate dream is to have a major artist pick up the song nationally and help to bring awareness and raise funds for the Alzheimer's cause.

"The fact that David Foster has agreed to accompany me on piano is a dream come true.  David is exceptional as singer, songwriter, composer, arranger and producer of some of the greatest musical talent of my lifetime," said Cawley.

Cawley recorded the song in the fall of 2008 at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville.

The single can be purchased at iTunes and via the Web site, All proceeds from the sale of the song are donated to the Alzheimer's Association and the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation. The song was chosen to be featured as the theme to the Kansas City Metro Area Memory Walk in 2009, along with several other key Alzheimer Association fundraisers throughout the United States.

Cawley grew up in a musical family and was constantly involved in performing and music ministries while growing up. After college, she pursued a career in sales and marketing, keeping music as an after-work passion. 

In addition, Kern, a resident of Ocean House in Santa Monica, taught ballroom dancing in New York. 

"Clarita is in great shape and looks 75," said Ed Silva, executive director of Ocean House. "Words can't express how thrilled we are that she has this opportunity to make her lifelong dream come true this week."

Kern and her family are very involved in the dancing world. In fact, Kern's daughter Marta did the warm ups on two "Dancing with the Stars" episodes. According to Marta, all Kern has to do is hear the music and the steps follow.

"Having the opportunity to fulfill and witness these dreams come true is truly our Optimum Life concept in action," said Sara Terry, vice president of Optimum Life for Brookdale Senior Living. "Our mission to 'enrich the lives of those we serve' will come to life on Thursday evening."

Brookdale's Optimum Life® concept is geared toward cultivating whole-person wellness through fulfillment in the six key dimensions. The six dimensions of Optimum Life are emotional, social, physical, intellectual, spiritual and purposeful.  

Leeza Gibbons' Dare2Care is a philanthropic themed pre-Oscar cocktail party benefiting Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation. It will be held Thursday, Feb, 24 at 6:30 in BOA Steakhouse at 9200 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.

Brookdale supported the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation through its Ultimate Chef America events in 2010. Ultimate Chef America was a professional cooking competition among the chefs of Brookdale, and had six events nationwide in 2010. Each event was a celebration of great food and life fulfillment. Leeza Gibbons headed the celebrity guest judge panel, and a silent auction benefiting her foundation featured resident-created works of art. Its silent auctions have donated more than $100,000 to support the work of the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation.

Brookdale Senior Living Inc. is one of the leading owners and operators of senior living communities throughout the United States. The company owns and operates independent living, assisted living and dementia care communities and continuing care retirement centers. In all, Brookdale operates 560 communities in 34 states, as well as operating a dedicated rehabilitation and therapy group serving its communities and residents nationwide. Brookdale is committed to providing exceptional living experiences within properties that are purpose-built, designed and operated to help residents live well while achieving an Optimum Life®. Brookdale Senior Living communities provide a daily experience of programs, services and care that are unique as a result of the collective talents and inspiration of the residents, their families, and its associates – demonstrating Brookdale's promise of "Our People Make the Difference." Brookdale is a publicly-traded company (NYSE: BKD). For more information, visit

The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and its signature program, Leeza's Place is "A Place for Caregivers," a community gathering place and resource center for family caregivers impacted by chronic or progressive illness.  Caregivers receive free support services, individual guidance, information and referrals, as well as a calendar full of programs designed to educate, empower, and energize. For more information, visit

Contact: Holly Botsford, Public Relations Manager, 414-918-5314,

Carole Crook, Lifestyles Program Coordinator, 310-399-3227,

SOURCE Brookdale Senior Living Inc.

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