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Longest Day benefits Alzheimer's Association

June 14th, 2012 9:47 am by Cindy Harmon

Longest Day benefits Alzheimer's Association

On June 20, you can help those trying to find a cure by participating in The Longest Day, a sunrise-to-sunset relay event to raise funds for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer's Association.

Imagine being the sole support of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the United States, more than 15 million people are doing just that, serving as caregivers for the estimated 5.4 million people that are living with the disease. Worldwide, more than 35 million people have the disease - making it a global and national epidemic.


Shockingly, every 68 seconds someone is being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a progressive degenerative disease which attacks the brain causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior. It is the sixth and only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression.


But, on June 20, you can help those trying to find a cure by participating in The Longest Day, a sunrise-to-sunset relay event to raise funds for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.


"What we are trying to do is to get folks to do some sort of endurance exercise all day long. Most participants will be taking the team approach with members biking, running or walking for a few hours each," said Debbie Boggs, manager of special events in the Johnson City office. "It’s a great event for church groups or workplaces to have a friendly competition to raise awareness and money."


With nearly a half a million caregivers in the state of Tennessee, the insidious disease causes stress and strain both emotionally and physically, sometimes compounded by feelings of guilt. Statistics show that 60 percent of caregivers die before the care receivers.


"It affects the family as a whole in so many ways. It’s not a disease to journey through alone," said Heather Gwinn, a registered nurse and the manager of programs and education for the Mid-South Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. "I want caregivers to know that


there are many support groups out in our local area. People who have been through what you are going through can offer you practical advice and understand what you’re saying."


The Alzheimer’s Association’s mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide advanced care and support to all affected and to reduce the risk of dementia through brain health. They are the leading global voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care and support and the largest non-profit funder of Alzheimer’s research.


"We’re moving closer to finding a cure every day, but there’s no way to stop this disease without further research, without help from people with funding to further the research to find a cure," Gwinn reiterated.


On June 20, you can show those dealing with Alzheimer’s disease that they’re not alone.


For you, the challenge will be one day. For people facing Alzheimer’s, it’s every day.


If you’re dealing with Alzheimer’s, there’s a wealth of information at alz.org or you can call the 24-hour help line (1-800-272-3900) for advice, support or just a compassionate person to speak to about the disease.


For more information about The Longest Day, to register your team or to set up pledges, go to www.alz.org/longestday. And please, save the dates for the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s: Sept. 8 in Kingsport; Sept. 22 in Johnson City; and Sept. 29 in Bristol.

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