Bridge players came out in droves Friday to Eskaton Village, Grass Valley, to participate in “The Longest Day,” an all-day marathon bridge fundraiser to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.
The event started at sunrise — 5:42 a.m. — with 12 die-hard bridge enthusiasts opening up the early-morning session. Throughout the day, more than 130 players participated in one to four sessions. Most of the players solicited donations from friends or donated individually to raise close to $3,000.
This local game was part of a national promotion between the American Contract Bridge League and The Alzheimer’s Association. Nationwide, more than 300 clubs participated with a goal to raise more than $1 million for this deadly disease.
“Alzheimer’s really impacts the lives of people and their families, and it is a fact that games like bridge can really help stave off the progression of this debilitating disease,” said the 90-year-old president of the ACBL Unit 461, George Feineman, who helped participate in and promote “The Longest Day” event in the local market. “There are more than 5 million Americans who have Alzheimer’s, and over 15 million caregivers are affected, and this number is increasing yearly.”
“We hope to have this become an annual event in Grass Valley, and we chose Eskaton, Grass Valley as our host because they have a memory care unit that specializes in working with patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” said Larry W. King, team captain for Eskaton.
“I knew that locally, we could really bring a lot of players together to raise money and awareness for this disease,” said King. “At Eskaton, we see people in their 80s, 90s and even a few 100-year-olds who are suffering from memory loss, and just after participating in a few sessions of bridge or any other card games, we really see them improve. It just goes to show you that you are never to old to learn new life skills.”
The average age of the players who participated in the event was around 76, and players came from bridge clubs, including The Grange, Lake Wildwood, Eskaton Village and Lake of the Pines. Carolyn Lashbrook, Chuck Grimm, Jim Hook, Harvey Biddle and Kathy Sandiforth, George Feineman and Larry King, all from ACBL Unit 461, and marketing director Loline worked tirelessly to make this event a success.
Eskaton Village, Grass Valley, the host of the event, provided food and beverages throughout the day for the players. Residents from the facility also joined in with other card games to be part of the festivities.
The winners of the opening session were Larry King and Harvey Biddle with a 58 percent game. Second-session winners were Rayna Triano and Jim Gallaher for east/west and Ward Thompson and Diana Thompson for north/south. Third-session winners were Maxine Musick and Ellen Hanley for east/west and Ron Jauch and Jaime Newman for north/south. The final game of the evening was won by George and Estelle Feineman, east/west, and Jeannine and Ed McGowan for north/south.
There were eight people who participated in all four sessions throughout the day for 16 hours of continuous bridge.
“This was truly the longest day for me,” said a weary but exhilarated Carolyn Lashbrook at the end of the final session. “We had a lot of fun and support from the community and we hope to make next year’s event an even bigger success.”
Donations will be accepted throughout the next two weeks by going to http://alz.org.