Tampa paints the town purple to raise Alzheimer’s awareness

Sunday, the city of Tampa's buildings and bridges were lit up in purple as a show of support in the fight to end Alzheimer's disease. A special ride featuring Slingshots kicked off the Alzheimer's Association Florida Gulf Coast Chapter's Longest Day awareness campaign.

June 20 is the summer solstice. It's the longest day of the year and the day with the most daylight. It's why they picked Sunday because they want to be able to shed the most light they can and raise the most awareness possible for this disease.

The event kicked off Sunday evening at Ford's Garage in Brandon. The local chapter paired up with Polaris which manufactures 3-wheel motor vehicles known as Slingshots.

A few dozen Slingshot drivers participated in the ride along with Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

"What I hope is that they see all the purple shirts and they see the activity and they ask what is this all about so they become more informed about Alzheimer's," Castor said.

The ride started at 7:30 p.m. The idea behind it is to create a one-of-a-kind spectacle that will get people's attention to simply spread the word about the fight to end Alzheimer's disease.

"It takes a community to help be able to walk through this disease and be proactive no matter if it's early-onset or if it's the umbrella of dementia Alzheimer's as a whole," said Alzheimer's Association Florida Gulf Coast Chapter Chair Kathleen Scovel.

Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that destroys one's memory and important mental functions. It's considered a public health crisis in Florida.  Of the 5.8 million Americans who have the disease, about one-tenth of them live in Florida.

As part of "paint the town" purple, all the city buildings and bridges are lit up with purple lights Sunday night. The organization is hoping people will see these lights, ask questions and learn more about the disease and the fight to end it.