Alzheimer's Disease hits close to home for many of our SSE family. It just makes sense for us to partner with the Alzheimer's Association to raise awareness and funds to combat this horrible disease.

On June 6th, we held our annual Rib Battle event to benefit the Alzheimer's Association. It was an incredible event with tasty food, fun games, and lots and lots of people all coming together to help end Alzheimer's. I met up with Kate Mayefske the day before the event to learn more about what the South Central Wisconsin chapter of the Alzheimer's Association is all about.

Tell me about the history of the organization/your chapter

The South Central Wisconsin chapter of the Alzheimer's Association is one chapter of a national network of chapters. Alzheimer's Association was founded in the early 1980 by Jerome Stone, and it is now based in Chicago. It has grown to be involved in care and support services for all those affected by Alzheimer's and related types of dementia, including those living with the condition and their loved ones and caregivers. We also advocate at the national and state level, and fund research for better therapy and hopefully a cure.

What is your role within the organization?

We are a small staff of 4 employees, and I am one of them. I do a variety of things, including being the staff lead of The Longest Day, which is our second signature event. Our first signature event is the Walk to End Alzheimer's, a nation-wide walk to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's research.

What is The Longest Day?

The Longest Day is an event typically held in June around the Summer Solstice. The idea is that the person holding the event chooses an activity that either they love, or their loved one that lives with Alzheimer's loves, and make it a tribute to their loved one with the goal of raising awareness and funds. The range of activities is endless: we have a woman climbing a mountain, a beer tasting, and of course, Short Stack's Rib Battle. It's all about personalizing the day and making it a tribute to their loved one.

Where does the name "The Longest Day" come from?

The event is typically held around the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year. It represents the long days that caregivers can have when caring for their loved one, and also is a nod to the fact that the concept of time can change for the person living with Alzheimer's.

What's something that would surprise people about your organization?

We are the third largest funder of Alzheimer's research, behind the US government and the Chinese government. There are 2 researchers at the University of Wisconsin - Madison whose work is funded by this money! We have impact on every level -- close to home, national, and global.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Helping people. I get to help connect people with information that will help them, whether that is information about how to make the most of the time left for a person with early onset Alzheimer's, or connecting caregivers with networks of people that can support and help them best care for their loved one.

How do we get involved?

We rely on our volunteers to reach out into the community! Your commitment can be as little as a 1 day event, participating for a season, or even an ongoing engagement. No matter what, your contributions matter. There's something for everyone, too! We lok for people to assist with support groups, facilitate office work, help with web design and social media… the list goes on.

The best way to get involved is to go to our website, alz.org/scwisc. From there, click the volunteer link and there will be a description of jobs volunteers might have and a link to the application!

Anything else?

Some interesting stats:

-There are over 7,000 people living with Alzheimer's or related dementia in Dane county, and over 110,000 in Wisconsin.

-Of caregivers, 2/3 tend to be women.

-People that participate in our social groups for those that have been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's or mild cognitive impairment report a great increase in quality of life and learn a lot about how to cope with the disease process.

Alzheimer's affects a great many people, and the Alzheimer's Association is here to help. Come on down to Short Stack the entire month of June and part of your meal will go to help support this great cause!

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