On the summer solstice, sunrise-to-sunset encompasses approximately 16 hours, depending on where you live. Imagine spending all those hours doing something you love – – or something personally challenging – – such as an Amazing Race-style day filled with biking, swimming in the ocean, golfing, playing squash. Or perhaps a board game marathon is more your style?
Many of us have heard of the Alzheimer’s Association®’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s held annually in the fall. Did you know they also hold a fundraising event in June during the summer solstice? It’s called “The Longest Day.” This year’s official event day is on Monday, June 20, although teams may choose to hold their events on a different day. The title and timing of the event acknowledges how each day living (or caring for a loved one) with Alzheimer’s disease can seem like the longest day.
Similar to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, individuals form teams and solicit donations to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association®. This event is different, however, in that walking may or may not be involved. You get to select whatever activity you want to do, which can be anything you love to do. Some choose a favorite hobby of someone they have lost to Alzheimer’s to honor their memory. Examples include: dancing, bowling, golfing, reading, watching movies, doing crafts, swimming, playing bridge, making music…the choices are limitless.
Perhaps the best part is that you don’t have to join or form a team from the same geographical area: teams can be virtual! Check out the Longest Day registration page or their Facebook Page to see if there is already a team participating in an event you would like to do on a date you are available. Or create your own activity and date by starting your own team.
Next, you’re ready to announce what you’ll be doing on your longest day. Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, email, in person, or by good old-fashioned postal mail. All that remains is to participate in your chosen activity on your chosen “longest day.”
Last year, 2,307 teams raised over $3.5 million on The Longest Day. (source: http://www.alz.org/stl/in_my_community_59330.asp). One of these teams, Bridge Heroes United of Arlington, Virginia has held a bridge-a-thon for the past three years. Their event this year on June 18th will consist of a morning game, an all-you-can-eat pizza lunch buffet, and an afternoon game. The nine participants signed up so far have already raised $2,465 in donations for the Alzheimer’s Association®. In their previous three years, they raised a total of over $58,000 – putting them in the Top 20 teams their first year (2013), and in the Top 10 teams the past two years.
The team captain, who goes by the name of Black Widow, shared some fun memories from last year’s event. “I put my friends up for auction along with the bridge professionals,” she said. “We raised over $5,000, but I didn’t have anyone to play with because I auctioned off my regular partner. Not doing that again!”
Last year’s event fell on Father’s Day, and several players partnered with their dads. One dad, who was visiting from New Jersey, had taught his daughter to play bridge when she was young. He passed away shortly after the event, leaving his daughter with a wonderful memory of the time they shared together.
If you participate in The Longest Day event, celebrate at sunset that you played a part in helping to fight Alzheimer’s disease! Regardless if you participate or not, the summer solstice is a great time to pause and honor those who have been touched in some way by this disease. Put the hope out there that by the next solstice researchers will have made long strides toward a cure.
–Jean Wentz, Production Assistant