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Ask most adults the disease they fear most, and a good percentage will say Alzheimer’s disease because it cripples the mind. One can function with a mobility disability, for example, far better than an impaired brain.
Which is why on Wednesday, June 21, the longest day of the year, Newtown Bridge Club is all-aces to help trump Alzheimer’s as part of a concerted effort by the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL). The Newtown club will hold an all-day bridge marathon with three separate games and complimentary food before each.
Local businesses are generously donating the food.
“I like to give support any way I can to the town of Newtown,” said Angelo Marini, who owns Sal e Pepe (“salt and pepper” in Italian), and who perhaps has even more of a reason than most for giving.
“I have a grown niece, Chelsea, who has Rhett syndrome,” he explains. “That’s the severest form of autism.”
Sal e Pepe has actively supported research and related treatment in the illness afflicting the owner’s niece. “We do what we can,” Mr Marini said.
But might seeing this article embarrass Chelsea?
“She can’t read,” he said sadly.
John Tambascio, owner of Tambascio’s Italian Grill, and his mother Louise Tambascio, owner of My Place Restaurant, are also contributing.
“We’ve experienced it before,” Mr Tambascio said of having friends with Alzheimer’s. “But whether or not, we’d give anyway. It’s important to support local people.”
Others joining in the support include Bagel Delight, Portobello, The Villa, McGuire’s Ale House, Dere Street Bakery, Newtown General Store, Frank Pepe, Dunkin’ Donuts, Papa Al’s, Figs, Franco’s, Foundry Kitchen and Tavern, 99 Restaurant, Red Rooster Pub, Capri Pizza, Kings, Barnwood Grill, Caraluzzi’s, Stop & Shop, Stew Leonard’s, Costco, Big Y, and Edmond Town Hall.
Alzheimer’s in a loved one or friend has touched many of the Newtown Bridge Club players.
“I had two very accomplished aunts,” said Charles Slater, a club member and one of its regular players, “and both were victimized by the disease in later life.”
“My wife’s aunt was an interior decorator who annually made in six figures at a time when it was uncommon for women to do so,” Mr Slater shared. “As her sharpness waned, her husband tried to compensate and my wife and I, to keep things normal, kept coming over for dinner.
“One time, the meal was interrupted by a burning smell; she had left peas in the oven far too long. On another occasion, after we had the appetizer, she discovered she had never bought a main course. We ran out and got hot dogs!”
“I had a particularly brilliant aunt who was a lawyer and president of the Bronx Women’s Bar Association,” continued Mr Slater. “When she started failing, and almost sent out wrong memos to judges, my mother went to work as her ‘secretary’ to cover for her until we could convince her to retire.”
Personal stories like these are why Newtown Bridge Club will be participating in The Longest Day, supporting the fight against Alzheimer’s disease with its card game specialty three times on June 21. The summer solstice is appropriately chosen for this event as every day is a “longest day” for both those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.
Breakfast bagels at 8:30 am will be followed by a free bridge lesson from 9 to 9:30 am.
The morning game, from 10 am until 1 pm, will have both an Open duplicate section and a Social Bridge (non-duplicate) section with all local social bridge players invited.
Players will enjoy lunch and then fun in the afternoon (2 to 5) with a Pro-Am duplicate game, where each pro (Life Master) will be randomly paired up with an amateur (non-Life Master).
After dinner, the evening duplicate game (6 to 9) will have both an Open and a 49er section.
Bridge players can play in one, two, or all three events and are welcome to participate with or without a partner.
“Taking tricks is not nearly as important as taking a stand against Alzheimer’s,” said Newtown Bridge Club Manager Susan Fronapfel.
Game fees remain at $10 ($8 for Newtown Bridge Club members). Anyone bringing in at least $100 in donations can play free at all three games. All proceeds benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.
For more information, visit newtownbridge.org or call 203-733-8525.
Newtown Bridge Club, the second largest bridge club in Connecticut, holds five ACBL-sanctioned duplicate bridge games each week at Edmond Town Hall: 12:30 pm Mondays, 10 am and 7 pm Tuesdays, 10 am Wednesdays, and 12:30 pm Thursdays; and a monthly Sunday Swiss team game. Bridge lessons are scheduled at various times. Visit the club’s website for full details.