FLORHAM PARK, NJ — With Livingston resident Jessica Cohen at the helm as the Alzheimer’s Association Greater New Jersey (AAGNJ) chapter’s committee chair for The Longest Day—an annual worldwide initiative that brings thousands of people together to fight Alzheimer’s and other dementias through an activity of their choice—the AAGNJ urges greater participation in the 2021 season of The Longest Day, beginning with a kickoff event on Feb. 4 at 5 p.m.

"I have joined The Longest Day to fight alongside my grandmother and all those battling Alzheimer’s and dementia,” said Cohen, who wants to encourage others to join the fight by registering in The Longest Day on June 20 or participating in activities being hosted by others. “My mission is to assist in finding a cure, and I believe that my involvement in The Longest Day is a great beginning to that journey.”

Each year during the summer solstice, June 20, The Longest Day participants select a hobby—such as golfing, running, painting or another activity—and turn it into a fundraiser that will help advance critically needed research and provide care and support to those battling Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Using their passion and creativity, participants have individually raised thousands in previous years by hosting barbecues where guests pay for their plate, challenging their friends and loved ones to various competitions with a participation fee, asking for donations in place of birthday gifts, donating a portion of the proceeds from an art sale and more.

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This year, AAGNJ Executive Director Cheryl Ricci-Francione said the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias—and particularly the effects that social isolation has had on residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities—has made fundraising and general awareness more crucial than ever.

“We need to come together to fight this disease, and now is the time to start,” she said. “There are so many ways that New Jersey residents can raise much-needed funds between now and The Longest Day in June, and every single penny counts.”

Events hosted as part of The Longest Day 2021 will help fund local care and support efforts and drive global research and policy changes.

Great strides have recently been made with state policy changes amid the pandemic—including the recent signing of a bill addressing social isolation in LTC facilities that Phil Echevarria, Alzheimer’s Association director of government affairs, said will “make New Jersey a more dementia-friendly state”—but there is still more work to do be done.

In 2020, 308 teams participated and 557 people participated in The Longest Day across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, raising more than $270,000 despite the absence of large in-person events.

Among those supporting the mission is New Jersey Devils right wing Kyle Palmieri, who shares a special message in the video below encouraging New Jersey residents to participate in The Longest Day.

Also supporting the 2021 season are The Longest Day Global Team members Arthur Murray Dance Studio, International Council on Active Aging, American Contract Bridge League, The Judy Fund, Bankers Life Insurance Company, Capital Senior Living Corporation, POUND, Mah Jongg for Memories and The National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

The Global Team is made up of companies or organizations that have locations across five or more Alzheimer's Association Chapters and have committed to fundraising $50,000 or more. 

To register for The Longest Day or to learn more about how to participate, CLICK HERE.