Cohasset resident Matt Steele lost his wife, Margie to Alzheimer’s Disease a little over a year ago. It was a devastating loss that inspired plans for a weekend-long hike to raise money for research.
Steele, 58, joined forces with Jason Lynch, the development officer of the MASS/NH chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, to organize The Longest DayThe 48-Peak Challenge, will kick off Saturday morning at New Hampshire’s White Mountain range.
“The idea is we are all going to ascend the peaks over the weekend. And each team will have a picture in our purple shirts at the tops of each peak and create a giant collage,” said Steele.“It is meant to be a show of strength and resolve to end this disease.”
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For the Alzheimer Association, The Longest Day represents the amount of hours in a day that caregivers have to devote to their loved ones suffering with Alzheimer’s. Teams from all over the U.S. participate by doing one activity of their choice for 16 hours, sun up to sun down, and raising money for research.
On Friday, the Leonard P. Zakim, Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston will be lit in purple as a way to honor of the longest-day and all those who participate throughout Boston and the U.S.
“The longest day, and the 48-peak challenge were designed to bring people in the Alzheimer community, people who are impacted by this disease together,” said Lynch. "Every day is the longest day for the caregiver. So this event was organized as a tribute to those caregivers.”
The 48 peaks were chosen because it takes many a lifetime to climb all 48 peaks of the terrain, said Lynch.
“What we thought would be really cool is to put together this thing that takes people a lifetime to complete and bring together people who care about this disease a positive a constructive outlet to really make a difference as a team,” he said.
Last year, after Margie passed away, Steele and his children climbed one of the Kinsman Ridge peaksin her memory. This year they will be climbing that same peak.
“I have decided to carve out a piece of my life going forward to doing what I can to raise awareness and money for Alzheimer research," said Steele. “Also this is something my wife and I did together. So that ridge is symbolic for me.”
Lynch and Steele have been organizing this event and recruiting teams for almost a year now, and both say that they are excited to see the outcomes of their work. Hundreds of people will be participating in the challenge and are broken up into 48 different teams. Together the teams have raised $70,000 towards further research for the disease.
“We got this idea and we have really just ran with it,” said Lynch. "People love the concept and it’s something we would like to expand and keep working with and hopefully one day find some cure to this disease.”