Longest Day campaign raises awareness for Alzheimer’s disease

The Alzheimer’s Association launched a nationwide “Longest Day” campaign to spread awareness and raise funds for those affected by Alzheimer’s.

Special events coordinator of the West Virginia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association Nikole Kinder said the Longest Day exists partially to get awareness on those who spend their time caring for those affected by the disease.

“The Longest Day is a new way to honor care givers and those living with Alzheimer’s by dedicating one day to them,” Kinder said. “The Longest Day is held on the summer solstice, which is on June 20 this year. There will be 16 hours of sunlight and we are making that a day where you can do anything you want to honor someone with the disease. “

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.  Alzheimer’s worsens with age and sometimes it becomes severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

“The way I like to explain it is if you forget where you put your keys, that’s normal, but if you forget what your keys do, that’s not normal,” Kinder said. “A lot of people just think as you get older you’re going to forget things, but it doesn’t necessarily only happen to older people. It’s a disease that can hit anyone.”

Kinder said there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but the money raised from the Longest Day will help with research and care for those with the disease.

“Right now all we can do is raise awareness and funds to find a cure,” Kinder said. “Seventy eight cents of every dollar given to the association goes back into care, support and research.”

Last year, the Longest Day raised $3.2 million and 78 percent of that total went into helping those who struggle with the disease.

Teams are encouraged to raise around $1,600, essentially $100 for every hour of sunlight June 20 and do something they enjoy.

“It’s just an event where you do whatever you like to do,” Kinder said. “So, if you like to run, you put together a running team and you post on your Facebook that you’re doing the event and why you’re doing the event and ask for donations.”

Junior public relations major and a volunteer on the task force committee for the Longest Day Allyson Carr said the disease has personally affected her life.

“My grandmother suffered from the disease for three years, and over those three years she began to forget family and friends and changed from herself to someone completely different,” Carr said.

“This disease causes family and friends to lose a loved one before they even pass away,” Carr said. “Alzheimer’s took over my grandma bit by bit, causing it to take over our whole family’s lives.”

Registration for teams to sign up for the Longest Day is open and the Alzheimer’s Association encourages participants to keep in mind what someone with Alzheimer’s goes through every day.

“For us this is one day but for someone with Alzheimer’s it’s the longest day of their life every single day,” Kinder said.

Baily Turner can be contacted at [email protected].