NEW YORK – A fundraiser to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s disease is happening across the nation this weekend.
The effort titled ‘The Longest Day’ centers on and round June 20, the day with the longest duration of sunlight, otherwise known as the Summer Solstice.
Executive Director of the Alzheimer Association’s Northeast New York Chapter, Beth Smith Boivin, explains the annual fundraiser’s special meaning.
“The longest day campaign really bubbled up as a tribute to those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers because the concept here is that every day for them is the longest day,” said Boivin.
She explains that each person can do an activity of their choosing to honor someone in their life who has been impacted by Alzheimer’s. Some common Longest Day activities include things like sowing, gardening, cooking and in the case of John Marcantonio, hiking.
An avid hiker, this is the third year in a row, Marcantonio is going to take to several peaks of the Adirondacks honoring his mother who died from the disease. His goal is to raise money by putting groups of people on 29 peaks across the state, in what he is calling ‘The Longest Day 29 Peak Challenge.’
“This year we have 60 people that are signed up to hike currently. We have the 29 peaks covered and we raised over $12,000 and hoping for much, much more,” said Marcantonio.
After watching his mother suffer after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he has become very involved with his local chapter of the Alzheimer Association.
“My passion now, in my mom’s memory, is to fundraise and generate those funds necessary to provide that caregiver’s support in our local communities and to also provide the national association with funds to research and hopefully come up with a cure,” said Marcantonio.
While finding a cure is important to the Alzheimer Association, Boivin explains that their main focus is the daily care of the 6.2 million Americans who are living with disease. The organization offers a 24/7 helpline, one-on-one consultations, support groups, community based education and safety services.
These efforts are funded in part, by initiatives like ‘The Longest Day’ and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraisers.
“It is money that moves our mission forward and so while we certainly want to raise awareness, about Alzheimer’s disease, we do want to raise money as well,” said Boivin.
To get involved with The Longest Day, individuals can go to Alz.org where they can sign up for Marcantonio’s fundraising team or can create their own.