For 2021, Betsy Morgan-Brown made a special New Year's resolution: to walk 355 miles, lose 21 pounds and raise $2,100 by June 20, 2021 for the Alzheimer's Association through The Longest Day.
"I wanted to call attention to the high cost Alzheimer's has in the US economy ($355 Billion annually) and emphasize that we can all reduce risk by getting healthier." Betsy said. "I am just 89 miles, 5 pounds and $75 away from my goal."
A family history of Alzheimer's and dementia motivated Betsy to get proactive with her efforts. She was just 18 years old when her grandmother, Frances, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. In 2000 after a nearly 20 year battle, Betsy's grandmother passed away and was one of the first to donate her brain to The Mass General Hospital Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. (Frances is pictured at right along with Betsy's dad.)
In 2014, Betsy's dad, David, was diagnosed with dementia. Today he lives in a care facility in Maine.
"It means a lot to me to be able to fight for my dad and all those affected each year on The Longest Day, especially since I live so far away," Betsy said. "I will see him in June for the first time since August 2019. He still recognized me in 2019, but I am so afraid he won't know me now. I know ultimately that day will come, I just hope it's not this year. Not yet."
Betsy encourages others to take time to put yourself and your health first. "I generally walk my 2 miles on the treadmill first thing in the morning. I have the picture of me and my dad walking on the beach up in front of the treadmill as my motivation," she said. "I found walking first thing really helps me stay focused on my health throughout the day."
In addition to walking, Betsy has started eating a more brain and heart friendly diet, including more fruit, vegetables and healthy grains, and limiting red meat, processed foods and alcohol. "We allow ourselves one cheat day a week to curb the cravings," she added.
While these are impressive accomplishments on their own, Betsy has shared her story and her goals on her personal fundraising page for The Longest Day and on a linked Facebook fundraiser. She posts updates on her Facebook fundraiser every few weeks, sharing her progress and reminding friends they can still donate.
"The Longest Day is so personal. I love that it allows me to combine my personal passions with my commitment to end Alzheimer's," said Betsy. "It is also super flexible so you can literally do anything that you love to do as a way to honor your loved ones and raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association."
Now that Betsy is so close to reaching her personal goals for The Longest Day, she is inspired to do even more... and she invites others to join her!
"My husband and I, along with other members of The Longest Day Volunteer Committee, are hosting a Golf Fundraiser GOLF-2-ENDALZ at TopGolf, Greenville," Betsy said. "We hope this fun public event will help shine a light on the darkness of Alzheimer's here in the Greenville community. We hope you can join us!" Learn more about how to participate in this TopGolf fundraiser on Octover 23.
Want to learn more about The Longest Day? Check out all the different types of activities that you can do, and get started on your own event or personal challenge today!
Interested in reducing your risk of dementia and promoting your brain health? Check out our 10 Ways to Love Your Brain to learn more about what the science says about reducing your risk of cognitive decline.
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.