Playing bridge is a fun way to challenge your brain and reduce risk of cognitive decline, and for members of the Santa Barbara Bridge Club, the activity became an opportunity to fight Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia by raising funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association.

For eight years, the Santa Barbara Bridge Club has participated in The Longest Day, a fundraiser where hundreds of people nationwide host different events throughout the year involving their activity of choice to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s, culminating on the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice.

Team Santa Barbara Rufnsluffers got together June 19 for a day of games at the Santa Barbara Bridge Center. Participants raised more than $20,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter, and supporter Etty Yenni has pledged to match player donations.

The funds will go toward free, local programs provided by the chapter to all families affected by dementia, including support groups, education programs, care consultations, and the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline, 800-272-3900. Funds will also help to fund global research toward a cure.

“Belonging to a community of people who enjoy a stimulating game encourages friendships and stimulates the brain–things we all need in life, especially as we get older,” said Tish Gainey, volunteer club manager.

As The Longest Day’s inaugural partner, the American Contract Bridge League nationwide has raised almost $8 million for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Since its first time participating in The Longest Day, the Santa Barbara Bridge Club has raised more than $150,000 for the association.

“We are incredibly grateful for the immense support by Tish and her team year after year,” said Karen Ortiz, development director for the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter.

“Their enthusiasm and drive to take part in this cause to end Alzheimer’s and support those in our community who are affected is inspiring,” Ortiz said.

Other participants along the Central Coast are continuing to host DIY-style events throughout the summer for The Longest Day, including a polo tournament, wine tasting, and tamale-making. To start a fundraiser or learn more, visit