Five years ago, the Carteret County Bridge Club (CCBC) decided to take action against Alzheimer’s disease, a tragedy that many of their members were facing, whether they were caregivers or were living with the disease themselves.
So they turned their passion into a purpose and started a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association’s signature fundraising event, The Longest Day. The event takes place on or around the summer solstice, the day with the most light, where people from across the world come together to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through a fundraising activity of their choice.
For the Carteret County Bridge Club, coming up with a fundraising idea was simple: they started a bridge tournament, and charged people to play two sessions of bridge, ultimately raising $700.
After the first year, Susan Cetner, a Morehead City resident, stepped into a leadership role with the CCBC, joining their board and volunteering to spearhead their event for The Longest Day.
“Everybody knows somebody,” Susan says. “Even if you haven’t been directly affected, chances are you know somebody who has.”
For Susan, that rang true. Even though she didn’t have a direct connection to Alzheimer’s, her granddaughter was a caregiver for her boyfriend’s family, and she had many friends who were caregivers for their loved ones as well. However, her passion for fighting to end the disease went deeper than that, as she wanted to prepare for her future and the future of generations after her.
“My biggest thing that drives me is the fear of developing Alzheimer’s disease myself,” she says.
So she began dedicating all of her efforts to turning a small fundraiser into a big one to raise critical funds for research and care and support services. Instead of running two bridge sessions at the senior center where her club normally played, she asked a church if she could use their space for free one day, and began approaching local businesses to donate raffle items and door prizes.
“You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help you if you just ask for it,” Susan says. “Everyone is happy to be raising money for this cause, and the event itself is fun.”
The Bridge Club charges a minimum of $20 for people to play in the tournament, but Susan always emphasizes that people are always encouraged to donate more.
“My favorite thing about the event is at the end when we find out how much money we raised for such a great charity,” Susan says.
A ticket to enter also includes lunch, which is made by members of the bridge club, and Susan’s granddaughter, who runs restaurants, “donates her day” to help in the kitchen.
“The community just loves it,” Susan says.
In the first year that Susan ran the event, it was so popular in her community that she ran out of space at the church, and she raised around $5,000 for The Longest Day.
The following year, she moved locations to a different church, which allowed for more space, more bridge tables, and more room for the raffle and auction. Each year, the event has grown, raising around $8,000 in its third year, and around $10,000 in its fourth. In total, The Carteret County Bridge Club has raised $27,046 in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
The Carteret County Bridge Club is a member of Unit 119 of the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL), which has served as the inaugural partner for The Longest Day since the program’s inception, and has raised more than $6 million for care, support and research efforts to fight Alzheimer’s disease and all dementia. The ABCL joins The Longest Day again in 2020 as a partner. To join an existing Bridge League fundraiser or start your own ACBL event, visit alz.org/acbl.
The Longest Day 2020 will take leading up to and culminating on the summer solstice, June 20. Registration is now open! Turn your passion into purpose and start a fundraiser to fight Alzheimer’s disease. Learn more at alz.org/tld.
Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day
The Longest Day is the day with the most light — the summer solstice. Thousands of participants from across the world come together to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through an activity of their choice. Together, they use their creativity and passion to raise funds and awareness for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.