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Turning activities into action: The Longest Day’s goal to end Alzheimer’s

PARK CITY, Utah — The Alzheimer’s Association of Utah invites everyone to join “The Longest Day” campaign, a unique fundraiser aimed at fighting Alzheimer’s and all other forms of dementia. The Longest Day is the day with the most light — the summer solstice. The Longest Day participants fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s and all other dementia through a fundraising activity of their choice on a day that works for them. With sports tournaments, card games, parties, baking and more, participants raise funds to advance the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.

While the The Longest Day is centered around the summer solstice, it isn’t confined to a specific time or place. Participants can choose any day, and any activity that they enjoy, to help shine a light on Alzheimer’s. From sporting events to hobbies, every effort contributes to the mission of finding a cure through research and providing care and support to those all of those affected.

Ken Barfield and his mom, Leona.
Ken Barfield and his mom, Leona. Photo: Ken Barfield.

The Local Effort

One Park City local, Ken Barfield, who is a passionate advocate and board member for the Alzheimer’s Assocation Utah Chapter, is raising awareness and funds through multiple endurance challenges to honor his late mother, Leona, who passed away from Alzheimer’s.

“Our mother, Tomiko Leona Nakamura Barfield, passed away in October 2018 from Alzheimer’s. She spent 3 and a half painful years with us in Utah as we watched this insidious disease rob her of her memory and later, her life. To honor her strength and will, I am taking on four separate challenges to raise $10,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association,” Barfield said.

Barfield, who is in his 70’s, selected a diverse range of personal challenges including skiing the most vertical feet in a single day, playing 108 holes of golf, road cycling 212 miles, and gravel biking 100 miles.

“On April 10, I skied the longest run on the longest day at Sun Valley Resort in Ketchum, ID. I skied 91,871 vertical feet, completed 30 Challenger Lifts and 30 Warm Springs nonstop top-to-bottom descents, covering over 64 miles,” Barfield said.

“I’m asking for your support to help end Alzheimer’s. Your donation can honor someone you know or our friendship by supporting my team, Leona’s Sunshine Army.

The longest day of boating “fun”draiser

Another local is using a family outing as a means for fundraising. Amanda Foutz has started a Boating Fundraiser called “The Sunday Boat Crew,” which will occur on the Summer Solstice. She chose boating because it brings her father immense joy, especially after helping care for her grandmother Jan, who has dementia.

Amanda Foutz with family and friends on the water.
Amanda Foutz with family and friends on the water. Photo: Amanda Foutz

“My dad would spend 12 hours on the lake every Sunday if he could, so that’s what we’re doing on The Longest Day,” said Amanda. “It’s something we do anyway, and now it’s a fundraiser.”

From personal achievements, family inspired activities and outings, to full on sporting events, there truly is an activity for everyone to get involved in for the cause.

Pickleball for a purpose

The Park City Pickleball Club, led by Greg Leitzke, is also participating in The Longest Day. Leitzke, whose father passed away from Alzheimer’s, mentioned the fundraiser as a person goal, but that the club itself, “has been a huge proponent of supporting the community through non-profits… We hope to have over 125 players participate in the event, through both pickleball activities and silent auctions. People can come out and watch if they’re not ready to participate.” The club’s goal is to raise over $5,000 at the event.

All abilities are encouraged to come out and play. There will be professionals on hand to help players learn and improve their game. Register by joining Greg’s team here. Registration costs are $50 (A $20 fee and $30 or more donation when registering through the Alzheimer’s page. Participants will receive The Longest Day t-shirt and welcome kit from the Alzheimer’s Association) For those who would like to support the event, visit the the Pickleball Team Page and click the Donate butoon.

Money put to work

Funds raised through The Longest Day support the Alzheimer’s Association’s critical efforts in care, support, and research. The Association currently invests more than $405 million in over 1,100 active research projects across 56 countries. Their mission includes providing a 24/7 helpline, educational programs, and support groups, along with resources for those living with dementia and their caregivers.

By participating in The Longest Day, participants help the Alzheimer’s Association drive research toward treatment, prevention, and ultimately, a cure. Whether through personal challenges, community events, or simply raising awareness, there are opportunities for contributions both big and small.

For more information on how to get involved, visit The Longest Day on the Alzheimer’s Association website.

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