Whether you're participating at home, online or in-person, there are endless ways to engage family and friends in The Longest Day
. On June 20, the summer solstice, thousands of participants from across the world will come together to fight the darkness of Alzheimer's through an activity of their choice.
For Susan LaMotte of Charleston, SC, this event is an opportunity to honor her dad in a special way—especially since The Longest Day falls on Father's Day. To date, she's raised over $3,800 through a unique online fundraiser
"When I was a kid, my dad and grandpa loved taking us to Sonny's Lounge in Buchanan, Michigan," Susan said. "We LOVED getting scratchers with the hopes of winning $5."
This year, Susan decided to channel her dad, John C. Strayer, by offering some of that same excitement to her donors for The Longest Day. She has purchased 100 scratch-off lottery tickets, and she'll be drawing from among donor names for two winners of 50 tickets each on the big day.
This will be Susan's third year participating in The Longest Day. Her parents live outside of Philadelphia, so for her it's a way to be a part of the fight against Alzheimer's when she can't be there in person. Technology is wonderful for staying in touch from afar, but as her dad's dementia progresses, it's becoming harder for him to recognize loved ones and interact over video calls.
"The hardest part is being so far away," Susan said. "There's only so much I can do." She knows that it's been hard on her young children as well. At ages 4 and 6, their experiences with their grandpa have all been during his decline.
John was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment six and a half years ago. It was through a clinical trial for a potential drug treatment that he was formally diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease through PET scans that showed the amyloid beta protein accumulating in his brain. Even though that particular trial was not successful, Susan's parents found the experience to be very positive, especially for her mother.
"It gave her hope," Susan said. "It gave them a way to contribute in some shape or form. Dad had a really successful career, so it was hard for her to see his decline."
Whether through clinical trial participation or through fundraising, Susan is a huge advocate of giving back, being open about this journey and really connecting with people.
"I'm trying to make the best of it and to share where I can," she said. As a busy mom and entrepreneur, Susan has found Facebook to be one of the best ways to raise funds and awareness. "Every time someone donates, I thank them publicly on Facebook. And when other people see it, I'll get another donation come in."
But perhaps the most rewarding part of sharing is when people reach out with tips or comfort from their own experiences—or when Susan is able to offer information and resources to friends who are also seeing someone they love experience Alzheimer's or other dementia.
"There's something really beautiful about sharing these things publicly," she said. "Fundraising isn't just about raising money. It's about sharing your story."
Our thanks to Susan for sharing her story with us! We love the way Susan's fundraiser for The Longest Day springs from this special memory with her dad and grandpa.
We wish a happy Father's Day to all this weekend! This can be an emotional time, especially when loving or caring for a father with dementia, or remembering the special men that we've lost. Remember, our 24/7 Helpline is here for you anytime day or night at 800.272.3900.
And to all of our supporters of The Longest Day, we wish you the best of luck—especially on those scratchers!
About The Longest Day
Learn about participating in clinical trials
The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.