BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Kensington went purple Friday afternoon as more than 100 community members held hands in a group hug Friday afternoon at the Kensington to recognize the daily struggle of those with Alzheimer’s.
The Kensington, as part of the Alzheimer’s Assocation’s Longest Day campaign, handed out purple balloons, donned purple t-shirts and invited the community out to the facility to join in a human chain to try and wrap the Kensington building in a group hug on Avenue H between 22nd and 23rd streets in Fort Madison.
Leia Morrison, who was named the new director of The Kensington in April, said for the first year hosting the event, she was happy with the turnout.
“It’s a reference to the Alzheimer’s Association,” she said. “They have the Longest Day which is typically summer solstice, the longest day of the year. We wanted to do something a little different. They usually ask to raise funds at that time, but we wanted to do something that showed support. This is a multi-generational disease. It affects kids and family members, so it was really just for the community to come out and say we’re here to kind of get the longest embrace.”
The effort fell short on numbers but not on passion as more than 100 held hands and stretched around the main parking lot at about 1 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Morrison said it was a wonderful turnout and next year she really wants to wrap the whole building.
“This is the first one we’ve done and we’re hoping next year we can recruit some more people. The idea would be to go around the building and I think that would be a great way to show support,” she said. “This year they were able to stretch around the parking lot, but the goal was to go around the building and give the building a big hug.”
There were also raffles during the gathering and the funds raised will go to the fight against Alzheimer’s.
She said the event was one of the first she’s been a part of with The Kensington, which is a part of the Agemark Corp and Evergreen Senior Living. She said her first few months have been exciting.
“Agemark’s a great team. The Kensington is wonderful and the community is really good about being supportive and welcoming me. It’s a great company to work for and the culture and the values align with mine personally, so that makes it a great marriage and a great culture,” she said.
According to the American Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Nearly 44 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.