A morning of jumping rope in Redlands kicked off a fundraising campaign that could help millions, but for event organizer Chris Bowman, of Beaumont, there was one person who was top of mind: his grandmother.
Bowman’s event was the first of this year’s Longest Day fundraisers in the Alzheimer’s Association California Southland Chapter area. Almost 150 events with myriad themes are scheduled throughout Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles counties this month.
At the Bowman family’s Jump In event at Ford Park Saturday morning, June 4, about 25 people were registered, and more stopped by to, well, jump in.
The Redlands real estate agent started Jump In last year to honor his grandmother, Edna Louise Nicks, who battled Alzheimer’s for 12 years before she died in 2020.
“She was like my first best friend. We were very, very close,” Bowman said. “I would hate for anyone to feel the pain that I felt … I got married, I had kids, and she didn’t really fully understand. I couldn’t share those memories with her.”
Other fundraisers include one centered around kettle ball swings in the San Gabriel Valley, a day-long dance lesson, 16 hours of exercise classes at a Claremont gym, 24 hours of gaming, and a grandmother spending the day cooking her family’s favorite recipes.
Bowman said his family chose jumping rope because it’s a fun, healthy activity that everyone can participate in.
“My wife and I came up with the idea of doing a Jump In, where people can jump in and raise awareness for Alzheimer’s and get physically fit, get the mind going, get the body going,” Bowman said.
Jennifer Mower, director of development with Alzheimer’s Association Orange County Chapter, said the versatile Longest Day campaign allows a lot of creativity.
“You can truly do anything you want, whenever you want, to support our mission,” she said.
Mower said she held a craft day to honor her grandmother.
“My grammy passed away from Alzheimer’s disease when I was 27, and I inherited the shell collection, she loved shells,” Mower explained. “… so I invited my family and friends to come over and asked for a donation to my Longest Day event, and they got to go through her shells and decorate a frame and we had pictures of her up.
“It was really special.”
More than 6 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia, Mower said. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the country.
The association funds research for a cure; and offers free education, support groups, and a 24/7 helpline (800-272-3900) in more than 200 languages staffed by specialists.
Currently, the association is investing over $300 million in more than 920 projects in 45 countries, on six continents. About $28 million of that is spent locally.
“We’re really, truly trying to create a world without Alzheimer’s and all dementias, and while we’re on the way to that we are trying to meet families where they’re at along their journey and offer support,” Mower said.
While the summer solstice, June 21 this year, is the longest day, interested parties can help any time.
Money raised stays locally, and supports care, support, advocacy and research done by the nonprofit.
The Jump In team will continue to raise money through the end of the month.
To join participate, find out more information, or donate to the Jump In team, go to alz.org/tld.