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$24,000 Donation in Cards for Alzheimer’s Association

Santa Barbara Bridge Center players hold 13-hour charity tournament on longest day of the year

Bridge is good brain exercise for “Rufnsluffers” card players at the Santa Barbara Bridge Center.
Bridge is good brain exercise for “Rufnsluffers” card players at the Santa Barbara Bridge Center. (Santa Barbara Bridge Center)

On the longest day of 2016 — June 20 — card-game enthusiasts filled 24 tables of four and celebrated the Summer Solstice by playing bridge at the Santa Barbara Bridge Center for 13 hours to raise awareness and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month — raising well over $24,000.

The Santa Barbara Bridge Center is a sanctioned club of the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL). Four years ago ACBL became the inaugural global partner of The Longest Day, the Alzheimer’s Association’s signature annual fundraising event, and to date has raised $2.5 million from participating clubs across the U.S. and Canada.

“I personally think it’s one of the best nonprofit cause relationships because bridge is trying to keep you mentally strong,” said Tish Gainey, club manager and The Longest Day committee member. “The goal of so many of our bridge players is to keep those senior moments to a minimum.”

The Santa Barbara players formed a team and called themselves the Rufnsluffers, derived from blending bridge playing strategies. The team raised funds through sponsorships and individual players became “marathoners” who secured pledges from friends and family.

Social players joined in by paying $300 to secure a table for the day; drawings, prizes and a delicious lunch rounded out the festivities.

Even though other bridge clubs have a longer history with the event, the Rufnsluffers, led by team captain Jennifer Larkin and committee members Maria Black, Susan Case, Tish Gainey and Dawn Ligon, set their sights high for a first-time goal and came in not only top team in California, but fifth best in the nation.

They raised more than $24,000 to help the Alzheimer’s Association.

“There’s something about the game of bridge which takes a lot of mental acuity,” said Gainey, noting that players have to pay attention, count and problem solve, which uses all of your brain and keeps you more involved mentally.

“We value bridge for our brains,” said Larkin. “It does keep those synapses firing; it takes a lot of brain power.”

Although Gainey has not been touched by Alzheimer’s, a friend of hers shared an experience that the local Alzheimer’s chapter has one of the best support groups.

“Our memories are supportive to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s,” said Larkin.

Visit the Official 2017 The Longest Day page today to get started on ideas for next year, thelongestday.alz.org/.

To join the Santa Barbara Bridge Club, contact Gainey at [email protected] or 682-2911 or contact Larkin at [email protected] or 698-1858.

For information the Alzheimer’s Association, visit alz.org/cacentral or call 272-3900.

— Ashley Lee for Santa Barbara Bridge Center.


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