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Members of Lexington bridge club join their hands in bid to battle Alzheimer's disease

Fifty-six members of the Bridge Club of Lexington gathered Sunday to play cards and raise money for Alzheimer's research. Before play even started, the group had raised $4,200.
Fifty-six members of the Bridge Club of Lexington gathered Sunday to play cards and raise money for Alzheimer's research. Before play even started, the group had raised $4,200. Lexington Herald-Leader

On Sunday, the longest day of the year, the Bridge Club of Lexington did its part to raise money for research into Alzheimer's disease.

Fifty-six people played bridge for three hours in the club's space near Bluegrass Station Post Office on Lansdowne Drive.

Before play had started, the club already had raised $4,200 from donations and the sale of raffle tickets for a year's free play of bridge, said Donna Loeffler, who coordinated the fundraising.

The Lexington club was one of hundreds across the country that participated in the national Longest Day event to raise money for Alzheimer's research. The event is held on the summer solstice to symbolize the challenging journey of those living with Alzheimer's and their caregivers.

A 2014 study by the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Disease Research Center found that, by playing card and board games such as bridge, older people can better retain their mental sharpness.

"Bridge is not an easy game. That's why people like it so much, because it's so challenging," Loeffler said. "You have to think about lots of things in order to play good bridge."

Kathy Stanwix-Hay, 66, said she thinks playing bridge keeps her mind sharp.

"I think so, yes, on good days," she said.

During the past two years, more than 160 bridge clubs in the United States have raised more than $1 million for Alzheimer's research. This was the second year the Lexington club participated .

The average age of a member of the American Contract Bridge League, the sanctioning body for the game, is 69.

Loeffler, 74, volunteers by spending time with Alzheimer's patients at Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods, an assisted care facility in Brannon Crossing in Jessamine County.

"You can see that these are just people with an illness, and many of them are still capable of doing lots of things," she said. "We talk with them, we sometimes play games, we go for walks."

Lauren-Ashley Pope, development specialist for the Greater Kentucky-Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, said she appreciated the bridge club taking time to raise money.

"It's amazing that people are willing to give up their Sunday and Father's Day to come out and support the association," Pope said. "That means a lot to us."

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