Small town raises big funds
Deep in the heart of Plumas National Forest, nestled in a valley between snowcapped mountains, lie a few tiny towns scattered along the winding roads and giant pine trees. With the help of her small community, Christine Johnston has put these towns on the map by raising funds for The Longest Day®.
“Everyone knows everyone, so you have to be well-behaved,” jokes Christine when talking about her hometown of Clio (pronounced Cly-oh, like Ohio). “And everyone here knows someone who’s been affected by dementia.”
Christine and her husband Andy both had fathers with dementia. After a PBS special on the Alzheimer’s epidemic aired, “I thought to myself, I have to do something!” shared Christine. She went online to alz.org and signed up to receive emails. One of those emails introduced her to The Longest Day.
Coming up with a plan
Knowing she wanted to include as many people from the community as she could, Christine began to formulate a plan. “I was thinking about this for two months. I knew I wanted to do a dinner and have music,” explained Christine. “I finally decided on a cowboy theme. This is cattle ranch territory and people dress in western gear normally.”
With the theme set, Christine decided to hold it at the fellowship hall at her church in Portola. “We had dinner and homegrown entertainment,” Christine said. They sang fun western songs, hosted a sing-along, shared humorous jokes and heard a spirited and humorous reading of Bill Grogan’s Goat.
Turning her event into a fundraiser
Originally, Christine wanted to charge a set price for the dinner. However, on advice from her friends and her pastor, she put out a tip jar and let people make their own donations. “We have a good mix of demographics and I didn’t want people not to come because of the price,” Christine explained.
A resource in her community
Christine’s connection with the Alzheimer’s Association® is widely known throughout her community, and people regularly come to her for help and resources. Christine reminds her friends and neighbors that “the Alzheimer’s Association is a broad organization that isn’t just about Alzheimer’s.” The organization is available to help support those with any form of dementia.
Christine’s cowboy western evening was a huge success. With more than 50 guests, she was able to raise more than $1,200. While The Longest Day was on June 21st, Christine is one of many who hosted her event on a different date. Fundraising for The Longest Day 2019 continues through August 31, 2019.
At the cowboy western evening Christine was able to provide resources and talk about services offered by the Alzheimer’s Association. “I made it an education moment by handing out packets that I made,” explains Christine. “We’re all dealing with some aspect of dementia.”
Creating your own event
When it comes to making your own event for The Longest Day it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
“Talk about your idea with friends,” Christine advises. “I talked with my church group and my pastor about how to ask for donations. I asked people for their recipes.” She goes on to explain that “the more people get involved, the more enthusiastic they become about being a part of the event.”
“I was thrilled with the number and quality of volunteer helpers,” Christine goes on to share. “The event not only provided funds for the Alzheimer’s Association but also helped with community building.”