‘The Longest Day’
Relatives with Alzheimer’s inspire zumba instructors’ benefit
The Zumba instructors jumped, whooped and danced with vitality, but behind their smiles and fast moves were stories of loss and strength.
It may have looked like a regular Zumba class inside Nakai Hall at the Window Rock fairgrounds, but the significance behind the “Longest Day Zumbathon” held last Wednesday was anything but ordinary.
A member of the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association, Michelle Crank was informed of an opportunity to be a part of the “Longest Day” event. The event is where individuals are encouraged to hold an activity they enjoy on the first day of summer, the longest day of the year, in hopes of raising awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia, as well as soliciting donations. “I’m doing this in memory of my dad,” said Crank. “The primary reason also is we don’t have any caregiver support groups on the Navajo Nation. When that component is missing the caregiver is left with the feeling of abandonment, not being educated of the unknown.”
Crank described her late father, Jimmie Crank, as “the kindest, gentle man” but when he was diagnosed with dementia there was a change. What once was a sweet man was now a “despondent” one. She said this side effect from the illness is common and if she weren’t educated on this it would have hurt her even more. “You can’t personalize it or it hurts too much,” said Crank emotionally. “I remember the first time my dad got mad at me, it broke my heart. I knew that was the dementia and Alzheimer, but had I not been informed I would’ve been extremely hurt.”