Craig Handel, Fort Myers News-PressPublished 9:30 a.m. ET June 17, 2018 | Updated 1:41 p.m. ET June 17, 2018
Sam Lewis wants to bring back the longest memories to the longest day. For the last six years, Lewis has raised more than $35,000 for Alzheimer’s awareness.
This year, he has his most ambitious project to date: To create a trending or viral sensation on June 21, the longest day. The Alzheimer's Association tags the day to raise funds and bring awareness for care and support while advancing research toward finding the first survivor of Alzheimer’s.
Lewis' idea is for everyone to make videos or posts of recollections they have of loved ones alive or deceased who have dealt with Alzheimer’s.
Included would be #OneMemory.
“If we could save one memory what would that one be?” Lewis asked. “It can be happy, sad, momentous.
“We want to honor Alzheimer’s and the research being done and bring awareness of the disease.”
Lewis’ family has been touched profoundly by Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, which causes memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life.
Lewis’ grandmother, Alma, died about five years ago after being diagnosed.
On June 21 - the Longest Day - make a video or write a post on a loved one who has Alzheimer’s. Include #OneMemory. Post your work on all platforms of social media.
Fred Schaerf, one of the nation’s leading Alzheimer’s researchers, said Southwest Florida is ground zero for dementia since nearly a one-third of its residents are 60 and over. He also said if better treatments aren’t found in the next decade, it would cause huge financial problems.
Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in America, costing more than cancer and heart disease.
In 2018, the direct costs to American society of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will total an estimated $277 billion, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
While Lewis’ T-shirt company, Wear The Fund, donates to a number of nonprofits, the top recipient is Alzheimer’s. He recently has been named Florida’s chairman.
Lewis said he’s spoken to the Alzheimer’s Association but isn’t sure if it’ll help spread his idea on June 21.
While Lewis said there’s a good chance this concept could lead to his group raising less money than in previous years, he thinks there can be a huge long-term benefit.
What he’d love to see is this become a phenomenon like the ‘Ice-Bucket Challenge’ in 2014.
With a few people, then athletes and other celebrities dumping a bucket of ice-water over their heads. more than $115 million was raised for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. It also is known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“Everyone started to make $5, $10, $20 donations,” Lewis said. “They were attracted to something that can support a good cause and make a difference, but what was also easy and fun to do. It was funny to dump ice water on someone's head and get their reactions.
“We’re hoping our 300 videos turn into 500, 1,000, 10,000.”
As of this writing, about a dozen people have sent their videos and posts.
Lewis said what’s cool about the videos is that they can be saved and used again next year.
“Whether it becomes a viral sensation, drumroll please, we’re not sure,” he said. “It’s all organic. People will be doing their owns posts, then sharing friends’ posts. We’re urging their friends to do that so the internet robots pick that up on Yahoo! or Facebook.”