Puzzle Against Alzheimers

Puzzle Against Alzheimers

Puzzle Community comes together to fight against Alzheimers

Written by Elizabeth “Turtle” McElveen / June 18, 2024 / Main Photo: The Longest Day Campaign by Elizabeth


In early 2013, my Mom got the diagnosis we all feared… Alzheimer’s.

She had been showing symptoms of memory loss for a few years but doctors kept telling us it was just “chemo brain” from battling breast cancer twice. We had seen all the signs leading up to the diagnosis but hearing those words was something no one should have to hear.

Alzheimers is a type of brain disease, just as peripheral artery disease is a type of heart disease. It is caused by damage to nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Because the first neurons affected are the ones that control memory, language and thinking - these symptoms are the first ones seen in patients. And sadly, scientists now believe that these changes in the neurons are thought to begin 20 years before any symptoms start to show. And until the symptoms actually interfere with a person’s ability to perform their everyday tasks, they aren’t typically diagnosed with Alzheimers. Patients can go decades undiagnosed.

With my Mom, she covered her symptoms up very well. To many outsiders, she appeared to be a normal aging adult with a few issues remembering things. But the longer you were around her, you’d notice the same questions being asked over and over. Or you’d notice her normal bubbly and outgoing self start to shrink around others. As the disease progressed, my headstrong, talkative mother became reserved and quiet. Once she retired from teaching first grade, her symptoms worsened much more rapidly. And in February of 2019, she passed away from a hard fought battle with Alzheimers.

Photo above: (top) young Elizabeth & her mom, (bottom) Elizabeth with her parents and siblings on a trip to the Biltmore in 2015.
I wish I could say that Alzheimers and dementia were rare.

But unfortunately, someone in the world develops dementia every 3 seconds. Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia and contributes to approximately 70% of the cases. It’s a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time. And the scariest statistic - there has never been a survivor. There is no cure for this disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association is fighting to change that.

Through their initiatives and worldwide reach, they are leading the charge in Alzheimer’s care, support, research and advocacy. I can honestly say, I don’t know where I would have been without the Alzheimer’s Association when my Mom was diagnosed. Her doctors didn’t prepare us for what was to come. They didn’t train us on what to expect or how to handle situations. They provided no support for caregivers. I leaned heavily on resources within the Alzheimer’s Association throughout her battle.

Throughout fundraisers, the organization raises money to help families like mine with education, care and support.

It goes to research to help find a cure for this disease. It goes towards advocacy and awareness. As you can imagine, the fear that myself or one of my siblings may develop this horrific disease is always in the back of my mind. Family history isn’t necessary for someone to get Alzheimer’s but research shows that if you have a parent or sibling with the disease, you are more likely to develop it than someone without a family history. And because of this, I host a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association every June.



This is my seventh year participating in “The Longest Day” and because my Mom is the one who introduced me to puzzling, my fundraiser is all about PUZZLES.

I am hosting a fundraiser throughout the month of June. For every $10 someone donates to my fundraising link, they receive a raffle entry. And you can donate as much as you want. Ex: Donate $100 and you get 10 entries. The best part - the raffle prizes! Thanks to the incredible generosity of so many of our favorite puzzle companies (including Soonness), I will have over 60 puzzle and puzzle related prizes to raffle off at the conclusion of the fundraiser. Last year, we raised over $7100 during June and I hope to exceed that amount this year!

Photo above: a glimpse of the puzzle sponsors' puzzles (prizes are not as shown).
Coming up...
On the longest day of the year - June 21st - I will be hosting a 24 hour puzzlethon on Instagram from 7pm Friday (21st) thru 7pm Saturday (22nd).

During this time, I will be assembling puzzles to highlight our generous raffle sponsors and you may see some special puzzle guests join me throughout the night! Be sure to follow me @ThePuzzledTurtle on instagram to stay up to date on the fundraiser and the puzzlethon.

I’d like to say a HUGE thanks to Soon from SOONNESS and the other amazing raffle sponsors. I’d also like to thank ALL OF YOU. I couldn’t do this fundraiser without the support of this community. I say this all the time but this community is like no other. I’ve never been a part of anything like this before and I love each of you so much!

A few rules with the fundraiser:
  1. When you donate, make sure to use the link to my specific fundraiser. It can be found at the end of this article or on my instagram page. Only donations made to my fundraiser will earn raffle entries.
  2. If you are on Instagram, make sure to include your instagram name in the notes section of your donation.
  3. Because of the high shipping costs, we are only able to offer prizes to US shipping addresses.
  4. Donations toward the raffle will be taken from June 1 - June 30, 2024. You may still donate after June 30th but donations will not earn any raffle entries.
  5. All raffle prizes will be drawn the first week of July.
  6. The link is part of The Longest Day fundraiser on the Alzheimer’s Association website and is listed under my team name - “Puzzling Against Alzheimer’s”. 
Join The Longest Day Fundraiser


Much love to all.
Elizabeth “Turtle” McElveen

Photo above: The family at a Clemson University baseball game in 2015. “Clemson was always one of Mom’s favorite places.”



Get to know the Author: Elizabeth “Turtle” McElveen

“Turtle” is an avid puzzler and a member of the USAJPA. Her favorite puzzles are ones with original artwork, specifically cartoon style drawings or collages. She lives in South Carolina with her two rescue pups: Stella and Charlie. And she will be representing the US this September at the World Jigsaw Puzzle Championship in Spain.

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