BY MAGGIE BEAMGUARD
As the days lengthen, one of the biggest community-wide events in Seven Lakes approaches.
The Longest Day, an annual, national fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association, presents the opportunity to stand up to the darkness of Alzheimers.
In the three years since the fundraiser was started by Katie Carpenter and Canyn Russell, co-owners of the Seven Lakes Racquet Club, the local incarnation of the day-long event has evolved into a week-long Power for Purple Palooza.
It all kicks off with a Murder Mystery Party at Seven Lakes Country Club on Saturday, June 17 and culminates with the Fun Walk/Run and Tennis/Pickleball event on June 24.
There are two big changes to the week’s events. The golf tournament and 5K walk/run will both get upgrades.
“Heather Guild and Charlotte Kennedy had an incredible sub-committee that has really brought some amazing touches to the golf experience,” said Carpenter. “The 5K walk/run will be bigger and better this year with the help of our friends at Run the East taking the lead in organizing the race.”
Guild and Kennedy, with the aid of Susan Clark, a skilled fundraiser, have upped the stakes of the golf tournament with official sponsors, tee prizes and swag bags.
Last year they raised $2,000 from a Sunday group of about 40 who gathered to play. “We just had fun. We sold mulligans for $20, and we had a couple of $15 prizes.” This year they are planning a golf extravaganza with more than 100 golfers, both men and women from across the Sandhills.
The fundraising target for the tournament is $10,000. The organizers were inspired by the successful Mid South Goes Pink fundraiser for breast cancer which raised over $50,000 last year.
“We’re trying to do the same type of thing. We want it to feel really local,” said Guild. “It’s our local businesses in the village who are supporting us, and I would say probably at 50-60 percent of the golfers are going to be local golfers, including Foxfire.”
Clark has secured a number of local sponsorships for the tournament in Seven Lakes and even reaching into Olmsted Village in Pinehurst.
“The reception amongst the community is phenomenal,” said Clark. “Because everybody knows someone who’s either affected by it or has lost their life to Alzheimer’s the reception amongst the community is phenomenal. Everybody has a story to tell.”
The tournament will include a silent auction with golf-themed items. One of the featured items the organizers procured is a Seven Lakes Golf Club flag signed by a number of golf pros and LPGA Hall of Famers including Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel and Michelle McGann. Local seamstress Leslie Rose has made a custom golf cart seat cover in Alzheimer’s awareness colors for the auction. Golf foursomes will also be auctioned for a number of clubs including Pinehurst.
At the time of this printing, the tournament is only three or four foursomes short of a sellout. Interested teams are encouraged to email Kennedy at email@example.com.
The efforts of Carpenter, Russell and their team of volunteers have had tremendous results. The Seven Lakes Racquet Club was recognized by the association as one of the top-50 fundraising groups in the world, raising $15,000 their first year and doubling their total the following year.
“Last year we raised $30,000 so any number above $30,000 will make us happy,” said Carpenter. “Another barometer for making this Longest Day a success would be reaching more people in the community and letting them know we are fighting for their friend or loved one.”
For Carpenter, the Longest Day fundraiser is as much about relationships as it is about raising money. “We are always excited to meet new people and hear their stories because most everyone has a story to tell about their own experiences with Alzheimer’s disease. Sharing each other’s knowledge and memories help keep our loved ones close to our heart and remind us,and others, that they are not alone in the fight.”
People’s personal experiences with Alzheimer’s drive the community’s strong support of this fundraiser.
“Currently there are 180,000 people in North Carolina living with Alzehimer’s or another form of dementia and 369,000 family members and friends caring for those affected,” Carpenter said. “I meet people everywhere from grocery stores, to restaurants, on the tennis courts, and getting the mail who have experienced the grief, the funny stories, the sadness, and the frustration of Alzheimer’s disease. These brief exchanges help us realize that we have a common thread and bond.”
The event culminates on June 24 with a fun walk/run and tennis/pickleball event, and spectators are welcome. There will be a silent auction, live music and food from Meat and Greek food truck.
The wide support of Seven Lakes makes a difference.
“I believe people support this event because they have witnessed a family member or a friend develop this disease and they have seen what a huge toll it takes on everyone around. It truly is the longest good-bye,” said Carpenter. “We want people to know that they are not alone in their fight against this horrific disease, and one day we will have the first survivor.”
More information about the Power for Purple Palooza is available at racquetclubatsevenlakes.com.
The Alzheimer’s Association raises money for research, the care and support of those suffering with the illness, and the advancement of rights for people affected by Alzheimer’s. For more information about Alzheimer’s or to donate, visit their website at https://www.alz.org/.
Contact Maggie Beamguard at firstname.lastname@example.org.