CarMax Founder Forms Foundation to Research Alzheimer’s Disease
Richard L. Sharp knows the importance of research into the cure and treatment of Alzheimer’s all too well. Sharp, a Richmond, Virginia area businessman who led Circuit City and its national growth in the 90’s and is also the founder of CarMax, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in October of 2010.
At the early age of 66, Sharp is just one of millions of Americans struggling with the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Although officially diagnosed in October of 2010, Sharp told local newspaper Richmond Times-Dispatch how he had experienced earlier symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
“I was faking it to people,” Sharp said in the living room of his Goochland County home last week, adding that his grandfather, father and uncle had Alzheimer’s.
Sharp, who has his good days and bad days, is using his business knowledge to help fight and raise awareness of the disease.
“If we don’t find a way to find a fix and find a cure, you won’t be able to build enough buildings to house all of the Alzheimer’s patients who will be diagnosed with the disease”, he said.
Since 1999, the Sharps have donated more than $5 million to Alzheimer’s and neurological research, most of it at Johns Hopkins Medicine, the medical school and hospital complex in Baltimore where he served on the advisory board.
The couple is in the process of creating a national foundation to promote the collaboration and development of Alzheimer’s research. The goal is to raise in excess of $100 million — and be a major player in finding a cure for the disease.
They hope the foundation — likely to be called the Stay Sharp Foundation — will launch this year.
CarMax has grown with Sharp’s guidance to be the largest retailer in the US of used cars. He oversaw a team at CarMax as its chief executive that changed the way used cars are sold in the U.S.; Goochland County-based CarMax now has 120 used-car superstores in 60 markets. He is also a founder, and orginial investor of Croc brand shoes.
In addition to forming a foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease research, Sharp’s name will also be used to help local area high school students through a scholarship.
CarMax has established a $250,000 endowed scholarship for local Richmond, VA high school graduates.
The annual CarMax-Rick Sharp Entrepreneur Scholarship, to be administered by the Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia, is expected to be between $5,000 and $10,000 each year. The scholarship is expected to be awarded annually starting in 2014 through a competitive process based on academic performance.