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Veteran Plays Music to Raise Money for Alzheimer’s Research: “This Is My Ministry!”

When Larry Kingsley’s wife, Georgeanne, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he began playing music to raise money to fight the disease

Larry Kingsley played the trumpet in his high school marching band and when he was in the Air Force during the 1960s. So, when in 2020, he heard about the Taps Across America challenge ­— a call for musicians to play taps on Memorial Day in a simultaneous event to replace celebrations honoring fallen heroes canceled due to the pandemic ­— he dug out his old instrument.

Larry proudly joined the mission and played taps with some of his Cary, North Carolina, neighbors. It felt so good to play the trumpet again, and for such a good cause. It got him wanting to play some more. And as he looked at his wife, Georgeanne, who had been battling Alzheimer’s disease for several years, an idea sparked in his heart.

Maybe I could play my trumpet on the street and collect donations to raise some money for Alzheimer’s, he thought.

Larry first dug out his old trumpet to play taps in a nationwide event held on Memorial Day 2020
Larry first dug out his old trumpet to play taps in a nationwide event held on Memorial Day 2020

A giving heart

About three times a week, Larry would claim a spot on a busy Cary street corner, place a bucket in front of his music stand and a sign that read: “Alzheimer’s Research.” Then, with Georgeanne snuggled beneath a blanket in her wheelchair behind him, he entertained passersby with a selection of patriotic tunes and hymns.

Georgeanne was his number-one fan
Georgeanne was Larry’s #1 fan

People smiled as they hurried by after a hard day at work, but many stopped and listened for a bit. And most would drop a few coins or even some bills in Larry’s bucket. He gave every cent to the Cary MacGregor Rotary Club, of which he is a founding member, to put toward its Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust program.

Because of her dementia, Georgeanne didn’t understand why Larry was playing his trumpet on the street — she once thought he was panhandling to pay the bills and suggested he get a day job! But it did his heart good ­seeing her enjoy the music.

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When Georgeanne died in 2022, Larry was heartbroken. She had been by his side for 23 years. What will I do now? he wondered.
Feeling lonely at home and more determined than ever to raise funds to fight Alzheimer’s, Larry doubled his trumpet-playing time in memory of his beloved wife.

For more than a year and a half, “Larry from Cary” has been performing every evening, except Sundays and rainy nights. Each impromptu concert lasts about an hour.

Many of his listeners are regulars. Some are even kids, who know Larry always has a supply of cute stickers of butterflies and caterpillars. “Some nights there aren’t many people out and I don’t collect more than a few dollars, but just seeing those kids’ faces light up is worth a lot,” Larry shares.

For the past four years, he’s been using his talent to heal hearts and raise money for Alzheimer’s
For the past four years, he’s been using his talent to heal hearts and play music for Alzheimer’s research

Music for Alzheimer’s

A devout Christian, Larry considers his music to be a ministry. Many fans share their own heartbreak about parents, grandparents, spouses who have had Alzheimer’s. “I’m having a bad day, and your music really means a lot to me and helps me get through the day,” people tell Larry.

Bob Melone, a past president of the Cary MacGregor Rotary Club, says that Larry’s music is impactful and meaningful.

“Alzheimer’s is so personal. Almost everyone knows someone affected by it,” Bob says. “When people see someone like Larry, who understands their pain and loss, promoting a cause to eradicate it, they relate to it. He’s a unique individual because he has such a giving heart.”

Larry, who to date has raised more than $21,000 for Alzheimer’s research, says that his trumpet ritual has also helped him tremendously. Being out among people helps him cope with the loneliness of becoming a widower, and it also gives him great joy to be able to use his gift of music to bring joy to so many other people.

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Larry raised $21,000 for research
Veteran Larry raised $21,000 playing music for Alzheimer’s research

“I really believe music is that international language everybody understands and loves,” Larry says. “I am glad so many people enjoy my trumpet playing and I hope the money I raise will help bring about a cure for Alzheimer’s. In the meantime, there are a lot of people out there who sometimes just need somebody to talk to. I am so glad I’m here doing what I’m doing, because I know I’m having a positive impact on people’s lives.”

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