Longest day spent raising Alzheimer’s awareness
Lusby man turns summer solstice into cause
Last Wednesday — June 21 — was the summer solstice, the longest time between sunrise and sundown. It’s known colloquially as the longest day of the year. For one Lusby man, it truly was.
Dennis Poremski, director of wellness at Asbury Solomons, spent his solstice paddling a stand-up paddle board and riding his bicycle a combined 150 miles from daybreak to sunset. It was all for the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day challenge to bring awareness to the disease, as well as other forms of dementia, and raise funds for the cause.
“It’s going to be a long, long day,” Poremski said the day before, standing down at the Asbury waterfront. “The point is, I really want to, as much as I can, raise awareness of the millions and millions of people — it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. — giving care and support every day.”
Poremski participated in the event in 2012 but only rode his bike. This time, with some backing from Patuxent Adventure Center in Solomons, which provided the high energy food and drinks to get him through the day, he decided to paddle and ride. Not everyone who participates makes it a full day, but Poremski decided to take the event literally this year.
In the morning, he paddled up and down St. Leonard Creek to add up to 25 miles before a break for lunch and a shower at home where his wife and children provided the food and support to get him out on the road on his bike. The cycling portion was 125 miles starting and ending at Asbury with a track on the main roads well into Anne Arundel County.
“I did it!” Poremski announced in an email the next morning. “I stopped down to Asbury Solomons to catch the sunset at the end of the day.”
“We were excited to have him accomplish that goal,” said Patuxent Adventure Center manager Russell Morin of Huntingtown. “We just thought it was a very cool personal and mental goal for him to accomplish.
“It’s an amazing mental accomplishment to stay in motion all day like that,” he added.
Brad Andrus, executive director of Asbury Solomons, said Poremski represents Asbury and its mission well, and “he’s just a great person,” he added.
“His efforts during the Alzheimer’s Association’s ‘Longest Day’ event were incredible and really show his commitment to helping raise awareness around Alzheimer’s disease which affects so many older adults,” Andrus said.
While he luckily hasn’t had to deal with Alzheimer’s or other dementias in his own family, Poremski said he’s gotten to know many patients and caregivers during his 11 years at Asbury. He said it often gets forgotten how many people, paid and unpaid, take care of those slowly deteriorating from the dementia diseases that continue to be without cure.
“I’m really doing it to honor those with the disease and those who care for them,” Poremski said. He wasn’t able to raise too much money since Asbury has a strict no-solicitations rule, but hopes what he put himself through will inspire others to donate or get involved next year.
“I am proud to have participated in the Alzheimer’s Association’s ‘[The] Longest Day’ event to honor all of the friends, families and healthcare professionals who care for individuals who live with Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” Poremski wrote in the day-after email. “The support I received from the residents and my colleagues at Asbury Solomons and the Calvert County Nursing Center made my success possible.”
Next year’s longest day is Thursday, June 21. Perhaps Poremski will have some company out on the water or on the roadway.
Dennis Poremski, the director of wellness at Asbury Solomons, poses at the community’s waterfront with his stand-up paddleboard paddle the day before participating in the Alzheimer’s Association’s “The Longest Day” event.
The GPS track of Dennis Poremski’s stand-up paddleboarding on St. Leonard Creek which was around 25 miles.