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Bridge Players Hope to Trump Alzheimer's

06/18/2015 06:25 pm ET | Updated Jun 18, 2016

On Sunday, June 21, bridge players from all around the country will come together to raise money for The Alzheimer's Association, as they participate in a fundraising event called The Longest Day.

Held on the summer solstice, The Longest Day symbolizes the challenging journey of those living with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. Through a partnership with the American Contract Bridge League, (ACBL), bridge players have donated over $1 million dollars to fight the disease in just two years!

While the disease is serious, the approach to fundraising can be unexpected, fun and downright quirky. Games typically start at sunrise and last through the evening. The different strategies for raising funds are as varied as the players.

Bridge Heroes United

Members of the Northern Virginia Bridge Association and the Washington Bridge League created a team called Bridge Heroes United, where participants choose super hero aliases to symbolize their fight against Alzheimer's. The team captain, Yuen DeAnda, (aka Black Widow) is particularly invested, as her father suffers from the disease. The team raised over $22,000 dollars last year and are well on their way to surpassing that total by Sunday.

Bridge and Hogs

When you think bridge players, do you think Harley riders? Trish White, co-captain for the Redwood Bridge Club's TLD team did. While bridge players gather at the club to ride their chairs, members of five H.O.G. chapters in Southern California will ride their motorcycles in a joint fundraising effort called "Ride the Bridges." As the two groups come together to raise money, White is especially grateful. She was diagnosed a few years ago with plaque on her brain, an Alzheimer's indicator, and began playing bridge as a way to combat the disease.

A recent study conducted by the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Disease Research Center has found that older adults who play stimulating games may have a greater chance of retaining their mental sharpness.

"I have the hope that playing bridge will at least slow the tide of Alzheimer's for me and for others who have been told the dreadful news," White said. "As for the fundraising, what can I say? Keep hope alive!"

Ruff N Sluff PJ Party

"Almost everyone has been touched by Alzheimer's," says Priscilla Smith, owner of the Ruff-n-Sluff, a bridge club in Marietta, Georgia, and long-time ACBL director. "It's a terrible disease and our club wants to help support the efforts of the Alzheimer's Association in any way we can."

Her club's first game will begin at 6:30 a.m."Caregivers' start their day early, and so will we," says Smith. "I'm encouraging everyone to get there early even if it means wearing pajamas. In the past, we've had folks show up with curlers in their hair. Anything for a good cause!"

And the list goes on. The Bridge Club of Atlanta has a participant who has offered to pay the entry for any junior who shows up at their club. The Valley View Bridge Club in Dallas, Texas will offer play and lessons throughout the day. Can't play on Sunday?. Kibitz for a Cause is an online auction where players bid for the right to kibitz a pro at the Chicago NABC. For the right donation, you can play online with a pro through Bid 2 Bid.

If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend that also supports a great cause, look no further than your local bridge club! A list of participating clubs can be found on the ACBL website.

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