Long­est day spent raising Alzheimer’s aware­ness

Lusby man turns sum­mer sol­stice into cause

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By DAR­WIN WEIGEL dweigel@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @somd_bized­i­tor

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.

STAFF PHOTO BY DAR­WIN WEIGEL

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The GPS track of Den­nis Porem­ski’s stand-up pad­dle­board­ing on St. Leonard Creek which was around 25 miles.

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