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Meatballs for Memory: Anna Cooks Italian on The Longest Day

Meatballs for Memory: Anna Cooks Italian on The Longest Day
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June 10, 2020
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On June 20, the day with the most light, people will fight the darkness of Alzheimer's through a fundraising activity of their choice. This is Anna Cianciolo’s third year participating in The Longest Day to honor her father, her Aunts Pauline and Marianne, her Uncle John and all families facing this devastating disease.

My dad, Tom, entered the late-stage of Alzheimer’s in 2016. He passed away that October.

The resources on the Alzheimer's Association’s website were so helpful when I was first coping with my dad's illness, especially at a time when medical care was failing him. Then I heard about The Longest Day through the Association’s e-newsletter. I knew right away that I wanted to participate in support of my dad. Although I have lost him, two aunts and an uncle to Alzheimer's, the personal connections I've made by participating in The Longest Day have given me hope that the future can be different if we work together.

“Meatballs for Memory”

My event is a pop-up carry-out restaurant I call “Meatballs for Memory.” People can order three homemade, lovingly-crafted meatballs for a minimum donation of $5 and pick them up on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice. 

I knew this would be a great way for people to do something they enjoy and feel like they're doing something good for others at the same time. And who doesn’t like Italian meatballs?!

The most special part of my event is that it offers a way to share my love of food and family with others. I especially love that the solstice falls near Father's Day, which makes “Meatballs for Memory” feel like a special honor to my dad. 

My event is almost entirely virtual. All of the advertising, ordering and confirmation is done online. Pick up day is the real treat for me: I love when people send pictures of their families enjoying the meatballs at home. Nothing makes me happier!

Fundraising During COVID-19

2020 is a year of adjustments for everyone. This year, given the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be doing curbside pickup so that people don't have to come inside to claim their meatballs. 

So far, I have raised more than $4,100! I’ve created a Facebook event and have circulated fundraising emails through work and my local gym. I have tried to draw attention to the event by posting silly cooking videos (like Italian Cooking for Shut-ins!) to my Facebook event as well as other resources and updates from the Alzheimer's Association. 

A few weeks ago, I teamed up with a colleague and friend who is making chocolate chip cookies as a post-meatball treat. This has brought in more than $250 so far, and we are already looking forward to teaming up more formally next year. I can’t wait to see the numbers grow.

Bringing Light to the Darkness of Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease exacts a tremendous social and financial toll on families. It has no cure. The services the Alzheimer's Association provides are invaluable to coping with this terrible disease. In addition, the Association's advocacy work helps ensure that lawmakers and funding agencies keep Alzheimer's and all other dementia on the priority list.

I tell everyone this because it is true: Raising funds to support the Alzheimer's Association offers me the chance to shape the narrative of how Alzheimer's has affected my family. Was my father's suffering and death an end for me ... or a beginning? One thing I do know is that everything I do is in honor of him and to help others facing what I faced.

With Alzheimer’s, you will have plenty of dark days, but there are days that are a bit brighter. Participating in The Longest Day and supporting the Alzheimer’s Association is something we all can do to invest in our future. Today, let’s all shine some light on the darkness of this disease in support of those we have loved and lost … and those living to fight another day.

About: Anna grew up in the Detroit area and now lives in Springfield, IL with her husband, Tom, stepson, Gryphon and cat, Jonesy. View Anna’s fundraising page here.

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