Each year on the summer solstice, people across the country help fight Alzheimer's through an activity of their choice. The Longest Day is held on the day with the most light, honoring those living with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers, for whom every day is long.
The amazing thing about The Longest Day is that it’s defined by the creativity and passion of each individual participant. Because this is a do-it-yourself style event, you might not get to see these participants in action – so we will be sharing some of their stories with you right here! Stay tuned!
Learn more about The Longest Day or join our local Facebook Group for this event.
One of Gran's favorite recipes
Charlotte Forrest, Florence, SC
The last few years, Charlotte Forrest has participated in The Longest Day through tennis, her Gran’s favorite sport. With COVID-19 precautions in place this year, Charlotte switched gears in order to maintain social distancing. Her Gran taught her to cook and they loved cooking together, so Charlotte has decided to do a live cooking demonstration.
“I’ve never cooked live for anybody,” said Charlotte. “On Fridays, we always cooked catfish, fried potatoes and vegetables. But we’re trying to be healthy, so I’ll be doing a baked fry.”
Charlotte’s Gran is currently living in an assisted living, so they can’t interact the way they used to. Visiting through the glass of the window pane was just upsetting for Gran, because she didn’t understand why Charlotte didn’t come inside to see her. They now connect through phone calls instead.
As young caregivers, Charlotte and her husband balance caring for her Gran with working full time and raising a toddler. Charlotte is also pursuing her Doctorate degree in education. But hosting a live cooking demonstration for The Longest Day is something special that she can do to raise awareness and honor the woman who raised her.
“My Gran is a fighter,” said Charlotte. “I try to stay upbeat, because it keeps her going.”
A grueling 16-hour rucksack march
Craig Hanna & Dana Moody, Florence, SC
If you're not familiar with “rucking,” imagine yourself hiking for about 50 miles with 40 pounds of weight strapped to your back. That’s what Craig Hanna will be doing on The Longest Day.
Craig is a fitness enthusiast, but he knows that every step he takes will be an effort. The 1-mile route he’s chosen will taken on the biggest hill in Florence – not just once, but with each lap he makes over 16 hours.
Why plan such an intense physical challenge? For his mom, Jo Hanna, who is living with Alzheimer’s today. Craig and fiancé Dana Moody live with Jo and take care of her, along with raising their children. They know that Jo’s repetitive days of the Alzheimer’s patient must feel long to her.
“Every night before Miss Jo goes to bed, she says, ‘I’ve had the longest day,’” said Dana. “By doing something for 16 hours straight, we’re putting ourselves in their world.”
Just like his mother, Craig will not be alone in his journey. Several veterans and other supporters are planning to march part of the day with him in Florence, and a nurse practitioner will also be there to provide support. It won’t be easy, but they will get through it together.
An epic one-day crochet project
Rachael Siebert, Charleston, SC
When Rachael Siebert saw a post about The Longest Day on Instagram, it piqued her interest. She taught herself to crochet a few years ago, and she had never imagined that her hobby could help fight Alzheimer’s disease, a cause that is close to her heart.
Rachael is participating in The Longest Day in memory of her grandmother, Lucy Rabeno, who passed away with Alzheimer’s in 2005. She was just in high school when her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
On The Longest Day, Rachael plans to spend the entire day crocheting a sensory blanket designed for dementia patients. Each square will be crocheted with a different stitch in a unique pattern, providing textural interest to help keep restless hands busy. We can’t wait to see it!
Getting active for brain health
Harry & Dori Burgess, Inman, SC
9-year-old Harry Burgess has big plans for The Longest Day. From sun up to sundown, Harry and his mom Dori will be active outdoors. They plan to swim at Lake Jocassee, hike at FENCE in Landrum and bike at White Oak Mountain in Columbus, NC.
The Longest Day has become a June tradition for this mom and son duo. Since this event occurs during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, they choose activities that are both fun and good for their brains.
Dori, a program director with the Alzheimer’s Association, often teaches a workshop called “Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body.” Several years ago, she decided that she needed to practice what she preached. Once Dori started applying brain-healthy tips to her lifestyle, she lost over 80 pounds.
Thanks for showing us that brain health can start at any age!
Have a great idea for an activity for The Longest Day? We'd love to help you get started. Email us at TLDsc@alz.org or join our local Facebook Group for this event. Learn more about The Longest Day.