Hemmings announces fundraising effort on behalf of Alzheimer's Association.

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BENNINGTON — For those living with Alzheimer's or dementia, every day can feel like the longest day of the year.

That is the message that the Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, in conjunction with Bennington's Hemmings Motor News, hopes to convey with their fundraising effort The Longest Day this summer.

"The Longest Day references the summer solstice, but we also use it symbolically to emphasize that for those living with Alzheimer's and their caregivers, every day is the longest day," said Jane Mitchell, development director for the Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. "What people do is take something that they love, or something that a loved one with the disease enjoyed, and create an event around it."

The summer solstice, on June 21, is the longest day of the year and occurs when the sun is directly above the Tropic of Cancer. In support of the Alzheimer's Association, Hemmings will dedicate their June cruise-in events as part of their fundraising and awareness activities for The Longest Day.

"The cruise-ins were the most natural fit when it came to the Alzheimer's Association being able to come and be with us," said Scott Smith, director of circulation at Hemmings Motor News. "It lets them join us in person and interact with participants not just to encourage donations, but to provide information as well."

Hemmings' June cruise-ins are currently set for June 8 and June 22, weather depending. Throughout the summer, Hemmings will be accepting donations to the Alzheimer's Association and providing information on the disease. The company has set an ambitious fundraising goal of $50,000 for the summer, all of which will directly support the Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

"Hemmings is also reaching out to their car clubs, and handed out flyers to everyone who came to the May cruise-ins to let them know that June is Alzheimer's awareness month," said Mitchell. "Typically one in three people have a connection to the disease either through someone affected or a caregiver, which has been our experience with the team at Hemming's as well. It's very personal to everybody."

For both Hemmings and the Alzheimer's Association, raising awareness is just as important as the funds they raise for The Longest Day.

"I think that raising awareness about Alzheimer's and dementia is so vital, because a lot of people are under the assumption that they are just a normal part of aging, which is not the case," said Mitchell. "This is a disease that affects the brain as well as people's cognitive abilities. Through an event like this, people can learn about the disease, support those impacted, and in turn start taking care of each other as a community."

Hemmings will not just be supporting the Alzheimer's Association through their cruise-ins, however.

The company's President, Jim Menneto, will also dedicate his participation in The Great Race to the Alzheimer's association. In addition to raising awareness, Menneto is asking for a donation of a penny for each mile his team completes over the nine-day, 2,000 mile race beginning in Jacksonville, Fla., and ending in Traverse City, Mich.

"There will be a social media presence to support the Great Race team and raise awareness for the Alzheimer's Association," said Smith. "Everyone has a story, and everyone gets touched by Alzheimer's in one way or another. This is a universal problem, and we're all getting together to inform people and raise what funds we can."

The Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer's association hopes that Hemmings, the first Vermont-based global team for The Longest Day, can use their substantial presence in the region to enact meaningful change on the community level.

"Hemmings has such a big presence in Southern Vermont, and I think they'll be a wonderful resource for beginning a conversation," said Mitchell."People just don't talk about Alzheimer's, but when they do they realize that they're not alone and they start finding out about resources in the community — then they can start reaching out for those resources."

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.

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