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Life In the Carolina's Podcast

Mar 4, 2020

On this episode of the Life in the Carolinas podcast, Carl sits down with Bill Shilitto, executive director of the CART (Coins for Alzheimer's Research Trust) Fund, Inc.

The 22-year Army veteran carries on a work habit characterized by precision, long after Bill retired from the military. Having served in Vietnam in the midst of its highly-controversial war with the U.S., Bill is thankful that he never personally experienced the negative treatment that many of his fellow servicemen received during that time. This resulted in a relatively smooth transition back to civilian life when he retired, but at the same his experiences during that rough time in American history kept him humble and compassionate towards those he would work with in the future.

When asked about his perspective on leadership after his 22-year career in the military, Bill begins his reply by saying that “life can be stressful.” He explains that stress occurs when people are brought out of their usual environment; therefore, a good leader should have systems in place to support those who they are potentially bringing into unfamiliar territory. In short, it pays to be cognizant and empathetic with other people.

As a Rotarian, Bill was invited to the annual CART board meeting in 2005. CART, being the brainchild of Rotarian Roger Ackerman, had its first seed planted when Roger’s mother-in-law succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease. He looked into the state of the research currently being done to combat this brain disorder and discovered that it was severely lacking in progress. One day, Roger realized that he could simply collect “loose change” at every weekly Rotary meeting, and the rest was history. This year, CART will be collecting $9.4 million in loose change.

Bill hopes that diseases such as Alzheimer’s will lose the stigma it currently has. He pines for greater openness with regards to relatives of affected individuals speaking on how this disorder has affected their families’ lives. After all, increased awareness will lead to further developments in research and, by extension, possible solutions.