TheSnapLink: Helping Alzheimer’s Patients
HSE Sophomore Makes Strides for Alzheimer’s Patients and Caregivers
Writer & Photographer / Demi Lawrence
In high school, most kids take pride in making the honor roll or a sports team. However, Hamilton Southeastern High School sophomore Rahil Thanawala takes pride in something different, and he’s continuing to make strides.
In 2014, Rahil developed games for dementia/Alzheimer’s patients and began to sell them on his nonprofit website, TheSnapLink.org. These games include personalized puzzles and flashcards made up of family photos for the patients to construct and hopefully to help them remember things more clearly.
Seeing his grandmother suffer from Alzheimer’s was a main source of motivation and inspiration for Rahil. His grandmother, Dayaben, is from India, but with her worsening condition, she came to live with Rahil’s family here in Indiana.
“She will look at pictures and begin talking all about someone or a funny story,” said Rahil’s mother, Rupal. “It is with these pictures that she is piecing together memories and sharing those with us.”
In addition to puzzles and flashcards, TheSnapLink also donates MP3 players to Alzheimer’s patients in nursing homes. Even back in 2014, Rahil and a few generous sponsors won a Sundance Audience Award for the screening of the film “Alive Inside,” which provided TheSnapLink with its first huge awareness event about non-prescription assistance for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
“Alive Inside” is a documentary focusing on the powerful use of music as a cognitive tool for dementia/Alzheimer’s patients to use when medications fail. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett portrays the efforts of social worker Dan Cohen as he demonstrates music’s ability to help dementia/Alzheimer’s patients.
But Rahil’s impact doesn’t stop there. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis awarded Rahil with The Power of Children award and is producing a two-minute video on Rahil that will premiere November 11-12 at the museum downtown. This award is given around the nation annually to students who run nonprofit organizations. The museum will display Rahil’s and the other recipients’ videos for a year in the museum, and each recipient will be awarded $2,000 to keep their organization blossoming.
Along with this, Rahil, with the help of a developer, will launch a mobile app for TheSnapLink October 23. This app, mostly designed for the caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s, will help expand Rahil’s nonprofit from the family business level to something even bigger. Held in the lower level of the Riley Outpatient Center downtown, TheSnapLink will hold an app launching party from 3:30-7 p.m. The event will begin with keynote speaker, Dr. Aarti Shah, who is Eli Lilly’s new CIO. Then Rahil will speak about his journey with TheSnapLink and what he hopes this app will accomplish. Finally, the ceremony will have a panel of four people: Rupal herself; a representative from the Indiana Alzheimer’s Disease Center; Vince Wong, SVP Strategy Leader at Roche; and Dr. Gary Krishnan as moderator.
“I feel humbled and honored with the recognition I am receiving, and this award truly goes to Alzheimer’s disease patients and my grandmother,” Rahil explained. “There is still a long way to go, and this award is just the beginning of my journey. With additional funding, I would like to improve my app and broaden my outreach for other initiatives. My goal is to continue research until a cure is found.”
Please visit thesnaplink.org to learn more about Alzheimer’s.