When I was a kid, the longest day of the year was always one of the most exciting. School was out and we could play outside until dark — and even stay up a little longer to catch fireflies. It was a time of no worries.
But today, on the longest day of the year, I am walking more than 10 miles in honor of those who are enduring a life with Alzheimer’s. I am especially walking for Marilyn Beiser, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 58.
For more than 20 years, Marilyn worked in business administration and accounting, and enjoyed a successful career filled with promotions and awards. Then Alzheimer’s arrived and robbed her of her confidence. Marilyn was fired from three jobs and experienced long periods of unemployment. But Alzheimer’s didn’t stop there: It also robbed Marilyn of her freedom.
It wasn’t the diagnosis that became the longest day for Marilyn. Her longest day was the day she handed her car keys back to the dealership and stopped driving.
“I cried harder at the dealership than the day I was diagnosed,” Marilyn told me. “I knew I would have to ask friends and family for rides. I felt as though I was turning in my pride and my independence at the same time.”
Despite these challenges, Marilyn shows tremendous strength and endurance in her fight against Alzheimer’s on a daily basis. She is an active volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Delaware Valley Chapter and serves as Early-Stage Advisor for the national office of the Association. She is a dedicated grandmother, mother and friend.
She wants to be part of the solution. So, she asked her neurologist about clinical trials and has now been a participant for more than one year.
Marilyn inspires me to go the distance. A few hours and miles doesn’t feel like enough compared to the endurance, strength and courage Marilyn and millions of others show every day. Having the opportunity to participate in this new event to raise funds and awareness for with the disease has brought to light in a new way how my longest days (as a mother of two young children and a full-time worker) are nothing comparable to those living with Alzheimer’s disease, their caregivers and their loved ones. And it is a lesson to me to remember those long days as a carefree kid and appreciate those moments while I can.
I will do everything I can to continue the journey and inspire others to be ‘in it’ until Alzheimer’s ends, so we can achieve our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s and the longest days can go back to being about fireflies and great memories.
Lynn works on national event programs at the Alzheimer’s Association, including Walk to End Alzheimer’s™. Her passions are family, fundraising, great books, snacks and mindless reality television. Today she is participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Longest DayTM, a sunrise-to-sunset relay supporting those affected by Alzheimer’s disease.