(BPT) – If you hear engines roaring, get a whiff of burnt rubber and see an endless line of motorcycles, don’t be alarmed. And if you’re hearing reports of bridge games going on for 12 hours or more, you’re not imagining things. Those are just two of the many creative ways Americans across the country are doing their part in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 47 million people live with Alzheimer’s and other dementias worldwide, and that number is set to rise to nearly 76 million by 2030. In the U.S., Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top 10 that can’t be prevented, cured or even slowed. Throughout the country, Americans are finding creative and inspiring ways to cope with the disease, increase awareness and raise funds for research.
In a new annual tradition, San Diego bridge players have teamed up with members of the San Diego Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) chapter for The Longest Day, an Alzheimer’s Association event to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. The motorcyclists held a ride around area bridges while members of the San Diego Bridge Academy and the Redwood Bridge Club, both part of the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL), played a daylong game in a partnership set to raise more than $ 4,000.
The unique pairing is just one of hundreds of creative marathon fundraisers that take place around the country. Every year on the summer solstice, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages people to participate in The Longest Day, part of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month in June. The sunrise-to-sunset event symbolizes the challenging journey of those living with the disease and their caregivers. Participating teams are encouraged to create their own experiences by conducting activities through the day as they raise funds and awareness to honor those affected by Alzheimer’s.
These activities ranged from bridge to bowling to ice skating and biking. Ginny Rudell, in Florida, for example, worked with her local network to bring music to residents at care facilities. By doing this, she honored her mother’s fight against Alzheimer’s disease. In Connecticut, Cynthia Phillips hosted a local baseball game in honor of her husband.
Some teams even held multi-day fundraisers, like Kathy McElligott of Illinois, who cycled from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida with 20 other women. Then there’s Brady Hoover, who worked with friends and fellow hikers to reach all 48 mountain summits in New Hampshire as a multi-day activity in support of The Longest Day. The Longest Day had more than 5,000 participants and over 2,000 teams registered for the 2015 event by mid-June.
“For those facing Alzheimer’s every day is the longest day,” said Angela Geiger, Chief Strategy Officer, Alzheimer’s Association. “The Longest Day honors the strength, heart and endurance of people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. We want to demonstrate in a meaningful way that they are not alone.”
Recently the Association also published 10 Ways to Love Your Brain, tips that can reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Many of these tips will sound familiar – because often, the same healthy habits that are good for your overall health are good for your brain, including breaking a sweat, healthy eating and keeping your mind active and challenged. To learn about the 10 Ways to Love Your Brain as well as the other ways you can get involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, including information about The Longest Day, and the Purple Pledge, visit alz.org/10ways.