FLORENCE, S.C. – The Florence Community Bridge Club dealt a winning hand Monday morning and raised more than $500 for the Alzheimer Association’s annual “Longest Day” fundraising campaign.

Dozens of avid card players turned out at the Leatherman Senior Center in Florence for lunch and a few games of bridge, canasta and Phase 10 in support of the cause.

Jack Gurley, director of the Florence Community Bridge Club, said the idea of raising funds was passed down by the club’s sanctioning entity, the American Contract Bridge League.

He said instead of retaining the normal $1.25 game entry fee, the league will donate all fees collected on “The Longest Day” to the Alzheimer Association.

Gurley said as an extended show of support for Alzheimer’s awareness, the Florence club charged $6.25 per game, $25 per table –13 tables total – and accepted other donations from nonplaying participants.

“We raised a little over $500 today from the people here,” Gurley said. “All of the money will go to Alzheimer’s research. It’s a way for us to give a little extra to something we all know is a tough disease that a lot of people deal with every day.”

One of the club’s organizers, Pat Hovatter, said playing cards to raise awareness is a symbolic gesture that brings light to the power of the mind. She said playing cards, especially bridge, is a brain activity that is beneficial to the age gap typically prone to Alzheimer’s disease.

Hovatter’s mother suffered from dementia before dying last year. Hovatter said she knows the deep impact diseases of the mind can have on the victim as well as the family.

“It’s so important that we talk about this disease and hope there’s a cure in the next generation,” Hovatter said. “It’s such a crippling disease, because your mind fades and you can die without knowing who your loved ones are, and that’s heartbreaking.”

The Longest Day is held annually on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, by teams across the country to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer's Association.

For more information on the Alzheimer Association’s campaign visit, www.thelongestday.alz.org.

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