Tucson’s Kasser family leads by example and leaves a legacy


Mike and Beth Kasser gift therapeutic room to Banner Alzheimer’s Institute

After a personal experience left Mike Kasser and his wife Beth grateful for his health, the generous Tucson couple added the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute’s Toole Family Memory Center in Tucson to their list of supported charities. A dedication ceremony in November honored their generous gift with the naming of the Kasser Family Physical Therapy Room, where patients receive skilled physical therapy care to improve their mobility, balance and walking to give them the confidence to function their best and improve their quality of life.

“Mike is a visionary philanthropic leader in Southern Arizona and beyond,” says Jerre Stead, Chairman of the Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation. “The Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation board is honored by the Kasser family’s investment in the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Tucson.”

Members of Kasser’s extended family participated in the joyful dedication ceremony, with speakers that included Eric Reiman, MD, Executive Director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute and CEO of Banner Research; and Allan Anderson, MD, Executive Director of the Toole Family Memory Center.

Emily Borchers is a recently hired physical therapist who specializes in working with people with Parkinson’s disease. She is passionate about empowering aging adults and people with neurodegenerative conditions to improve their mobility through physical therapy and ongoing exercise for life. In her physical therapy sessions in the Kasser Family PT Room, she will provide patients with guided exercises to improve their strength and balance, while also helping them improve the quality and ease of their everyday movements, walking, and standing up from a chair.

The Kasser Family Physical Therapy Room features state-of-the-art exercise equipment, including the SciFit Step One Recumbent Stepper, SciFit Pro2 Total Body arm and leg bike, and SciFit Lateral Stability Trainer to help patients improve their strength and fitness. The space also features a Gaitkeeper treadmill for patients to practice good quality walking with coaching provided by the physical therapist. Emily will utilize her clinical expertise to challenge her patients receiving physical therapy with other pieces of equipment, such as hand weights and resistance bungees to improve strength and mat tables to practice important mobility skills like getting in and out of bed. Emily is very grateful for the generous donation from the Kasser family and the opportunity to begin providing physical therapy services for the patients of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute.

From Patient to Grateful

Fluent in six languages and with advanced degrees from MIT, Harvard Business School, and the University of Grenoble-France, Tucson real estate investor Mike Kasser clearly has a sharp mind. That’s why he became concerned when he began struggling with his memory.

“I had a relative who had Alzheimer’s and I worried it could eventually impact me. When I found out there was an established center in Tucson, I was very enthusiastic,” says Mike, who met with Dr. Anderson.

Testing showed that Mike, now 82, did not have the pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, Dr. Anderson felt his sleep struggles combined with normal age-related cognitive decline could be causing his memory lapses. Mike was relieved, and thankful to have the resources of the world-class Banner Alzheimer’s Institute less than a mile from his home. And, recognizing the importance of Alzheimer’s research, Mike volunteered to participate as a healthy test subject in a clinical trial investigating a potential new treatment.

Since opening in 2020, BAI Tucson has seen tremendous growth: doubling the number of new patient visits and return visits and tripling the number of Family & Caregiver Support visits. Meanwhile, the newly opened Neuro Wellness program for those with movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease already boasts a robust schedule of classes that take place in the stunning new Wellness Center. These classes are offered for a small fee, thanks to charitable investment by donors and community partners.

“Having BAI here in Tucson is an insurance policy, not only for me but for others. If it weren’t there and I were to develop Alzheimer’s, what would I do? It’s a charity where I was thinking of myself as a potential user of the facility, but it will help so many people in our community,” Mike explains.

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Choose Toole Family Memory Center from the gift designation menu.