LAGUNA WOODS (CBSLA.com) — Jim McAleer, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Orange County chapter, is in disbelief about an act of charity from a woman he’s never met.
Helen Banas, 95, bequeathed the entirety of her estate to the non-profit organization, in the sum of $27 million. Banas, who passed away in August, had been widowed for 50 years.
McAleer spoke on the possible affects of the astonishing generosity.
“You have a sense of the awesome impact money like this could have on our families,” McAleer said.
According to her neighbors, who were completely unaware of her wealth, Banas was described as a modest woman, living in a small $90,000 townhome.
“Really? I don’t believe that. $27 million,” Mary Ozawa said. “I guess I’ve known her for a long time, but she was just frugal. She wouldn’t buy anything.”
The money was left to her in large part by her husband, Alfons, who was a high level executive and stock broker. The two never had any children together.
McAleer stated that he hopes to use part of the gift to fund a number of outreach programs, such as organized walks to fight Alzheimer’s disease.
“We’re there to provide comfort, guidance, and most importantly information,” McAleer suggested.
Banas’ mother, who had the disease and lived with her daughter until her death in 1992, was reportedly helped by the organization. McAleer suggests this may be her way of giving back.
“The first thing I would do is fall on my knees and kiss her hand,” McAleer stated. “This is going to transform the lives of tens of thousands of people.”