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Dennis Poremski, the director of wellness at Asbury-Solomons Island, cycled for 15 hours and 212.5 miles Wednesday.

From 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., he cycled through 105 degree heat, a heat index ranging from 100 to 105 degrees, muscle strain, sore feet, fatigue and lower back and neck pain.

But he kept telling himself, “I’m only suffering for one day; people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers and family and friends suffer every day.”

Poremski was riding as part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s nationwide Longest Day event to “honor the long days and difficult job of those caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease,” according to a news release from Asbury-Solomons.

“I’m going to want to quit and I can’t. I’m not going to,” Poremski said in an interview prior to the ride. “I don’t want it to be about me. I want it to be about the disease. I want people to realize that even though I’m suffering for one day, people are suffering from this disease everyday.”

Thursday morning, he said all he could think about was how he got up and went to work “for just another normal day, but those people have to get up and do it all again.”

While Poremski was cycling through four counties, residents and associates at the continuing care retirement community in Solomons participated in a continuous relay walk around the campus from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to the release.

Forty-five people signed up to walk, Poremski said, but there were 65 participants by the end of the day. Participants walked a total of about 117 miles and 1,758 minutes, or 29.3 hours.

The longest walker, Poremski said, was Kenneth Bates, who walked for 2.5 hours and 12 miles.

Prior to his 15-hour ride Wednesday, Poremski’s longest cycling was only about 11 hours and about 135 miles, he said. “It’s going to be a horribly long and difficult day,” he said in the news release. To prepare for the long day of bike riding, Poremski has been cycling before and after work as much as he can and taking longer rides on the weekends. Poremski had expected to ride for at least 200 miles through St. Mary’s, Calvert, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties during the Longest Day event. “Everything after 200 miles is just gravy for me,” he said Monday during an interview.

He said Alzheimer’s will be a “massive issue in our country” in the next decade when “more people will die with Alzheimer’s than cancer or heart disease.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association website, this progressive disease is the most common form of dementia. In the past, the common belief has been that it is a normal part of aging, but the website explains that this is false. It affects memory loss and other intellectual abilities to such a severe degree that it reduces and interferes with a person’s ability to perform daily activities.

It is the sixth leading cause of death in the nation, states the website, and those with the disease live an average of eight years after the symptoms become noticeable to others.

Dementia differs from Alzheimer’s in that it is not a disease but an overall term used to describe a wide range of symptoms associated with memory loss and thinking abilities. Alzheimer’s accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases, according to the website.

Currently there is no cure, only treatments to reduce the symptoms.

Because the weather reached dangerous highs Wednesday, Poremski made “very quick, little” stops for water along his route since he can only carry about 60 ounces of water with him at a time. To combat the high temperatures and possible heat-related illnesses, he drank about 40 ounces of water per hour.

He said when he arrived home Wednesday night, his back was white with salt from sweating throughout the day.

“I’d probably do it again, but if it’s a little cooler that’d be nice,” he said laughing.

As part of the Longest Day event, participants are raising money to fund research conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association. As of June 15, Poremski had raised $300 of his $400 goal. He said that for him, it wasn’t about raising money because Asbury-Solomons already “dips into residents’ pockets” for its annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s event in September.

aharrison@somdnews.com