When Grant and April Livne of Pikesville learned that their grandmother, Idaline Lipsky, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they didn’t just make a phone call or send a card. Instead, Grant, 13, and April, 11, chose to dedicate their b’nai mitzvah projects to raising money for Alzheimer’s research through a favorite passion of theirs: kickball.
On June 20 at Fort Garrison Elementary School, Grant and April will host a kickball game as part of The Longest Day, a program of the Alzheimer’s Association. The money they raise will go to Alzheimer’s research and patient care.
“With the money, we want to try to help get better care for people with Alzheimer’s and find research for Alzheimer’s,” Grant said.
Their b’nai mitzvah ceremonies will take place in 2022, said their mother, Dana Livne.
With help from their younger brother, Gavin, and through online research, the family found out about The Longest Day. During the annual event, participants the world over work to raise funds and awareness in support of Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
“The Longest Day is held on the longest day of the year, which is June 20, and it kind of represents that every day in the life of a caretaker for an Alzheimer’s patient is the longest day,” Livne said.
The family contacted the Alzheimer’s Association’s Maryland chapter and began to learn more about the types of events the organization suggested having for the program.
“As soon as my kids saw ‘kickball,’ all three were all into that,” Livne said, “because they usually have a bunch of friends or neighborhood kids, and they go play kickball anyway.”
They set up a page on The Longest Day website that asks for donations for the Alzheimer’s Association. By mid-April, the siblings had nearly raised $4,700 for their $5,000 goal.
“It’s something that my grandmother would have liked, and if she saw it, she would have definitely smiled at it,” April said.
The siblings used to see their grandmother more often than they do now, April explained. When she was moved to a home for those with Alzheimer’s, their visits were reduced to twice a week, until the pandemic limited their interaction with her even more.
“Before, she was very fun and energetic, and she was very outgoing,” April said, “but now she doesn’t really know what’s really going on as much. And she can’t really talk that much.”
“She doesn’t really remember us that well,” Grant said. “She laughs a bunch and is smiling all the time, but she doesn’t really know what’s happening.”
“My mom was very fun and outgoing, so she was kind of like the life of the party,” Livne said.
Livne’s house is close to Fort Garrison Elementary School, which has as many as three kickball fields, Livne said.
The siblings are currently working out the details, such as how many teams there will be, how team makeup will be decided and whether winners of games will play each other in subsequent games, April and Grant said.
“I’ve learned a lot,” April said of the experience. “It feels really good to help other people.”