“The Longest Day” events fund Alzheimer’s support, research

by Judy Stringer

Many area professionals tend to slow down as the weather gets milder and schools let out by leaving the office earlier to enjoy the sunlight, for example, or taking Fridays off for family activities.

For locals who work with the Alzheimer’s Association and its countless volunteers and donors, however, this is the busy season as they gear up for The Longest Day fundraiser in June.

The event is held annually on the day with the most light – the summer solstice – this year it falls on June 21. That day “symbolizes the long day that people face living with Alzheimer’s or caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s,” according to Marcy Schulman, who is development manager for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater East Ohio Area Chapter.

Schulman described the fundraising opportunity as “DIY,” as participants create their own activities to encourage others to donate to the cause. She’s seen volunteers organize golf outings, races, concerts, dueling-piano nights, bridge-playing competitions, yoga in the park, dog hikes and even a 350-mile Cleveland-to-Cincinnati cycling “tiki tour.”

“That’s a really fun thing about The Longest Day events, people can get really creative and make it very personal,” she said. “The young woman who organized the dog hike did it in honor of her grandmother who had actually started a dog rescue group, and it was such a great way to tie in her grandmother’s love of dogs.

“Another woman who is turning 60 and lost her mother to Alzheimer’s is asking people to come to her birthday party and bring a donation, so it doesn’t have to be a big event like a concert or golf outing.”

While The Longest Day will be officially commemorated on June 21, Schulman explained that the fundraising activities can take place anytime.

“Just like you can participate in any way that you want, you can participate at any time that you want,” she said. “But, we do have a lot of events in June because that’s Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.”

Schulman said the Greater East Ohio Area Chapter works with the Cleveland Area Chapter to coordinate The Longest Day activities across the region. Combined, the two chapters recorded 156 Longest Day teams in 2022 and raised a total of $255,814. Their goal this year is to have 195 teams and raise $320,000.

The Longest Day funds are directed toward the association’s “free support services” to anyone affected by Alzheimer’s, according to Schulman, and research into treatments.

“There have been a couple of drugs that have been approved [by the Food and Drug Administration] that are not a cure, but could possibly slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s, which is huge,” she said.

Schulman said the Facebook page “The Longest Day – CLE + GEO” is the best source for information on events and activities related to this year’s fundraiser. ∞