It’s Never Too Early to Learn about Dementia

Kyle rehearsing at Music as Language Benefit Concert

Kyle is a sixth grader at the Charter School of Morgan Hill. When his science teacher asked each of her students to create a project on the brain, Kyle made what some might think was an unusual choice for a young boy his age.

“I was glad my teacher liked my idea to focus on dementia and the brain,” Kyle said. “I learned a lot of cool things, like the different types of dementia, the signs to look for, and what happens inside the brain.”

Kyle rehearsing at Music as Language Benefit Concert

Kyle rehearsing at Music as Language Benefit Concert

Kyle first learned about dementia through his participation in piano and voice training with Music as Language, a music education program based in Morgan Hill.

Every year, Kyle and other students of Music as Language put on a benefit concert to raise money for a worthy cause of their choice. In 2018, they chose The Sue’s Story Project. The Project was founded by Sue and Chuck Berghoff and their friend Robin Shepherd. Sue had been diagnosed with a fatal brain disorder known as Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). The Berghoff’s and Shepherd have made it their mission to increase awareness and advocate for research to find a cure for LBD.

Kyle at a surprise birthday party for Chuck

Kyle at a surprise birthday party for Chuck

When Kyle first met Sue, she made a big impression on him. At the benefit concert she joined the students onstage to perform the Beatles song, “Let it Be.” She had practiced the song ahead of time, but because of her dementia, Sue had trouble “finding her words” so she simply sang the three-word chorus, “let it be.” That didn’t dampen her enthusiasm for singing and dancing, which had been a lifelong passion.

According to Kyle’s mom, Ligaya, “Music for Sue is something that sustains her as her cognitive abilities decline. I could see how delighted she was being with the kids, and in turn how they were moved by her courage.”

Robin Shepherd with Sue & Chuck Berghoff waiting to see Kyle in “The Little Mermaid Jr”

Robin Shepherd with Sue & Chuck Berghoff waiting to see Kyle in “The Little Mermaid Jr”

“Seeing her and learning about what she’s doing to increase awareness about dementia made me feel like we can overcome anything,” Kyle said. “I presented my research in front of the class and thought, ‘I want to learn more about this.’ There’s not much known yet, and we need better ways to treat dementia. I think it’s important for more young people to know about it,” Kyle added. “If they have an interest, they can research it. Also, if kids know more, they can recognize and be respectful of the challenges faced by people with dementia, and treat them with kindness.”

We’re your forever fans Kyle!
—The Sue’s Story Team