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Alzheimers Semipostal Stamp Dedication Ceremony

A Stamp of Approval

By Meghan Rossbach

It was a moment Kathy Siggins had waited 17 years for: She, along with Congressman Elijah Cummings, Postmaster General Megan Brennan and other key stakeholders, pulled a drape to reveal the U.S. Postal Service’s Alzheimer’s “semipostal” stamp, a special type of fundraising stamp to advance causes that the U.S. Postal Service considers to be ‘‘in the national public interest and appropriate.’’ Available through 2019, the stamp costs 60 cents and covers the cost of first-class, single-piece postage, plus an amount to fund Alzheimer’s research.

Alzheimers Stamp event photo credit Hannah Close

Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, left, joined more than 200 people recently at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center for the unveiling of a new U.S. postal stamp intended to raise funds for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research. The stamp, by artist Matt Mahurin, costs 60 cents, which includes the rate of first-class, single piece mail, plus an amount to fund AD research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). (Photo credit: Hannah Close)

Speakers at the event included, from left, Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Constantine “Kostas” Lyketsos, who took care of Siggins’ husband; Deputy Director of the National Institute on Aging Marie Bernard, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings; Postmaster General and CEO Megan Brennan; [an unidentified friend of Siggins, who did not speak]; and Hopkins Bayview President Richard Bennett. Progress on this “complex disease,” says Lyketsos, has been slow, “but the extra funds garnered by this stamp will hopefully advance efforts to find a cure.” Learn more about the event and stamp at bit.ly/alzheimerstamp.

Alzheimers Semipostal Stamp 2017 Proceeds from the sale of the Alzheimer’s stamp will be given to the National Institutes of Health, a primary funder of research conducted by the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center. 

Siggins began advocating for a fundraising stamp shortly after her husband, a patient of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center, passed away in 1999. “After he died, I thought to myself, ‘We really need to do something to raise awareness and money for this disease,’” she says.

Inspired by the breast cancer stamp, which has raised more than $85 million for the disease, Siggins went to USPS headquarters and officially filed a request for an Alzheimer’s stamp. She collected thousands of signatures showing support, which resulted in legislation that led to a commemorative awareness stamp in 2008.

But that wasn’t good enough. Siggins wanted more.

“Was I happy that the post office decided to do an Alzheimer’s stamp? Of course,” she says. “But what I really wanted was something that would raise money and help find a cure for the disease.”

Siggins continued to collect signatures and even lobbied the House of Representatives and Senate to bring back the semipostal stamp program, which was put on hold in 2001, when it began a series to honor heroes of 9/11. Finally, in 2015, Congress approached the Postmaster General and asked her to reinstate the program.

This past November, Siggins saw the fruits of her labor at a first-day-of-issue ceremony, held at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. When she helped pull the drape, a large replica of the stamp was revealed — the profile of an older woman with a caring hand on her shoulder.