Volunteers coach The Longest Day participants to success

Have you ever signed up for an activity but weren’t sure what do next? Maybe you wished someone could answer your questions and offer tips. Alexis Diaz-Infante and Leighton Lerum, our volunteer coaching co-chairs for The Longest Day, are leading a group of volunteers who are here to help.

Maximum flexibility

Alexis and Leighton have found that many potential participants appreciate the flexibility that The Longest Day offers. While many teams hold their events on June 21, the summer solstice, others host events on dates that are more convenient for them.

Instead of participating in a pre-selected activity, such as a fundraising walk or run, teams choose the activity or activities they enjoy. It allows for creativity as groups have the opportunity to come together and make an impact.

An array of activities

Through speaking to participants and reviewing team web pages, Alexis learns what activities people are planning. She enjoys seeing the creativity of teams in picking their activities and fundraising strategies.

Alexis, showing her fundraising total

In Alexis’ experience, participants are happy to have a volunteer reach out and offer support. Participants who have been personally impacted by Alzheimer’s tell Alexis about who motivated them to participate.

One person Alexis spoke with was planning a bake sale. She was making her grandmother’s favorite recipes, in honor of her grandmother with Alzheimer’s who had loved to bake.

Supporting teams

As a member of The Longest Day committee, Alexis has been coaching other participants for the past two years. She reaches out by phone to past participants, encouraging them to sign up again. She also talks to first time participants.

Coaches share information about resources in the online participant center, available to all who are signed up for The Longest Day. As new features become available, such as the Facebook fundraiser or online check donation deposit, coaches alert the participants.

From coach to co-chair

This year, Alexis is serving as a co-chair of the coaching subcommittee with Leighton, leading other volunteer coaches. Since The Longest Day committee members are spread throughout our large chapter territory, they meet by telephone. This is a good option for people in rural communities or those who have difficulty leaving their house.

Alexis has found that there is great support for the committee members. Steven Krzanowski, The Longest Day Manager, meets with the volunteers and makes sure they have what they need to be successful. “If I’m ever confused or have a question,” Alexis noted, “Steven, Leighton or another committee member is available to help out.”

Coaching the coaches


Alexis and Leighton’s current focus is on training and supporting the coaching volunteers as they reach out to the teams. They are offering tips on how to: support the participants, provide ideas for fundraisers and answer common questions.

Their goal is to make the process easy for the committee members, so that they are comfortable and confident in their roles. The volunteers reach out to new and returning team captains.

Guiding teams to success

After people sign up for The Longest Day, a coach will call to welcome them. If the person hasn’t decided on their activity yet, coaches ask about hobbies or other activities they enjoy. “If they do something they love,” Alexis said, “they will put in the best effort.”

Once the person has chosen an activity, coaches can help them come up with easy fundraising ideas. If someone likes to take fitness classes, Leighton suggests that they speak to the instructor to see if they will hold a class where attendees are asked to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Fundraising strategies

People who enjoy group activities, such golf, tennis or board games might decide to set up a tournament. They can fundraise through entrance fees and getting items donated for a silent auction to be held at the tournament.

Leighton and Alexis have both had success posting about The Longest Day on Facebook and using the Facebook fundraiser, available in The Longest Day participant center. Leighton has already raised over $2,500, just by sharing information within her community.

Alexis, with her family

For her fundraising, Alexis involves her entire network of family, friends and colleagues (present and former). Former co-workers have donated items for prize baskets.

Family members who participated in the game day made donations. Over two years, Alexis’ team has raised over $3,300 for Alzheimer’s research, care and support programs.

With a fundraising goal of $10,000, Leighton is holding multiple events throughout the spring. She has collaborated with a friend who is a stylist for a boutique brand in San Francisco. Her friend is donating a portion of the proceeds from her sales to Leighton’s team. So far they have raised over $1,700.

Tips for fundraising

Here are some great tips to help you be successful in your fundraising. These suggestions are based on the performance of past participants.

  • Register early. The longer a fundraiser is registered, the more funds they typically raise.
  • Tell your story. Update your participant center page with a photo and tell everyone why you are supporting The Longest Day.
  • Get the app. You can update your participant page, send out donation requests, track you fundraising and thank your donors. Those who use the mobile app raise nearly four times more than other fundraisers.
  • Lead by example. Kick off your fundraising with a self-donation to help demonstrate your commitment.
  • Fundraise on Facebook. Participants with a Facebook fundraiser linked to their fundraising page raise over $200 more, on average, than fundraisers who do not.
  • Diversify your fundraising. Send out online requests and also ask people in person or via postal mail.
  • Get your company involved. Ask your co-workers to join or support your team. Check to see if your company offers matching gifts or grants.
  • Join us again. As you gain more experience, it’s easy to grow your fundraising.

A personal connection

Alzheimer’s has affected Leighton’s family. Last November, her mom was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Coach Leighton

It is difficult for Leighton because her family lives in Minnesota. She is volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association as a way to support her mom from California.

Leighton has appreciated how welcoming Steven, Alexis and other committee members have been to her. “It’s a phenomenal team, with a lot of different individuals coming together,” she shared. “Ben, our chair, helps us stay organized, be creative and keep participants engaged.”

Besides wanting to help her mom, Leighton is a great fit for the committee because she enjoys meeting new people and building relationships. She is also excited to have the opportunity to help people see that they are making a difference.

Kalein ALZ

Like many of the individuals she is helping to coach, this is Leighton’s first year participating in The Longest Day. A lover of both puns and kale, Leighton has started her team, “Kalein ALZ.”

As a strong believer in health promotion (Leighton has a master’s degree in health education and nutrition), she wanted to include some activities that promote brain health. Leighton will be using her talents as a barre instructor to host two donation-based workouts in March. She is also planning a brunch fundraiser.

A family affair

Alexis has the benefit of having participated in The Longest Day and serving on the committee for the past two years. Alexis involves her family in The Longest Day.

Alexis initially learned about The Longest Day through VolunteerMatch. A recent college graduate, she was looking for a way to get involved and meet others in her community. As a child growing up in Salinas, her father had taught her the importance of giving back to the community.

Alexis and her siblings

“Every year I have been getting more experienced,” shared Alexis. “I have been able to make my event more successful.”

In past years, her family has hiked and played games together. Alexis and her aunt, who is a physician, shared information about Alzheimer’s at last year’s event. While they had planned for a short educational session, it lasted longer because family members asked many questions.

Making an impact

Alexis enjoys educating others about the disease and the services available through the Alzheimer’s Association. She especially sees the value for families such as hers, who have not yet been personally affected by Alzheimer’s or related disorders.

Alexis feels gratified as she has seen more people participate in The Longest Day each year and raise more funds. She also sees community awareness related to Alzheimer’s disease growing. “I feel happy to know that I’m contributing,” shared Alexis.

Leighton’s inspiration on the committee is to help her mom and the millions of others who are living with Alzheimer’s. “I want to help with fundraising to potentially impact and fuel the research,” said Leighton, “so that we will ultimately find a treatment or cure.”

If you would like to volunteer on the committee or participate in The Longest Day, visit alz.org/thelongestday or contact Steven Krzanowski at skrzanowski@alz.org.

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