Play begins at the Longest Day Bridge Tournament supporting Alzheimer’s research.
Yuen De Anda bustled around the function room at the Beth El Hebrew Congregation on Seminary Road without pausing, greeting all participants by name and putting the final flourishes on the The Longest Day event she’s been planning for months.
“Yuen is a whirlwind,” said Leo Cardillo about the bridge enthusiast and vice president of the Northern Virginia Bridge Association. “She does a great deal for everyone — at the youth level, with Sunrise Bridge, and for Alzheimer’s.”
The Longest Day — held on June 21, the longest day of the year — was organized by Bridge Heroes United, a cooperative endeavor between The Northern Virginia Bridge Association, the Washington Bridge League, and the Richmond Bridge Association. The event’s goal was to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research.
More than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s, a number that is expected to exceed 13 million by 2015 if no breakthrough cure is found, according the Alzheimer’s Association. The need for something that can stem the rising tide of those facing this degenerative brain disease is pressing since 10,000 people turn 65 every day.
While the purpose of the 8 hours of games was to raise money for Alzheimer’s research, but there was a serious competitive component as well. There was no entry fee to participate, so all funds raise were through donations and raffles. There were participants of all ages at The Longest Day.
Many were Fairfax County Public Schools students who started playing bridge as a part of the service-oriented project Sunrise Bridge, in which young people learn bridge and play with seniors. Thirteen-year-old Nyla, who was celebrating her birthday at the event, said she’s enjoyed learning the game, “I like playing with other people and talking about when they were young,” she said of her senior partners. In exchange for passing on their bridge acumen, she teaches them how to use their iPhones.
And, like anything else, when it comes to bridge, there’s an apps for that. Michelle Khoury started playing with her twin daughters so they could surprise their grandmother, a bridge enthusiast, with a game. She ended up earning master points at The Longest Day after learning from National Champion Adam Gann who was also present at the event. Khoury supplements her lessons with online apps, “I’m a little competitive,” she said.
Daisy Smith from the American Bridge Association has been playing bridge for about 50 years. She is particularly invested in Alzheimer’s research because she lost her brother to the disease. Her hope is to spread the game she loves throughout urban areas, so that everyone has a chance to play. She echoed the sentiment of many participants throughout the day that bridge was a way not only to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s but also to stave it off, “it keeps the mind fresh,” she said.
Georgette Weiss joined the Washington Bridge Association when she retired because her husband doesn’t play games, and the issue of Alzheimer’s awareness is close to her heart, “I’m getting older, the baby boomers all are, and I’ve known so many people with the disease, I’d like to see something done.”
She goes on to highlight the work of De Anda, who fell in love fast and hard with bridge three years ago, and is now not only an accomplished player but the driving force behind The Longest Day, “Yuen does a phenomenal job, it’s amazing what she’s put together.”
Yuen’s months of work paid off. The event raised in excess of $21,500 toward Alzheimer’s research.