The Longest Day: FOX 5's Tom Fitzgerald lost his father to Alzheimer's disease

The impacts of Alzheimer's disease reach far beyond the people who have it. FOX 5's Tom Fitzgerald lost his own father to the disease, and he was brave enough to share his own personal story with you.

For seven years, Fitzgerald (lovingly known by his colleages and friends as "Fitz") watched the father he knew and loved slowly slip away. He says living his life knowing his dad as the person he was and then watching that person deterioriate was extremely difficult. In the process, he took on the role of his father's caregiver.

"I became my dad's dad," Fitzgerald said.

As the disease advances, he explained, what's left is the person you still love, but a person you've got to get to know all over again-- because they're not the same.

"All of the things that we take for granted, Alzheimer's took away from my dad," he said.

WATCH FITZ'S FULL STORY IN THE VIDEO ABOVE.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month, and FOX 5 DC Cares has partnered with the Alzheimer's Association as it gets ready for its big fundraising event called The Longest Day – and to feature some of the amazing members of our local community who are dealing with Alzheimer's and dementia.  All week we will be bringing you their stories.

The Longest Day is held across the country by the Alzheimer’s Association as a way of honoring patients afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers, as well as raising awareness and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association.

The event is held annually on the summer solstice, Monday, June 20, which is the longest day of the calendar year.

To get involved:

• Participate in The Longest Day on June 20, a sunrise-to-sunset event to honor those facing Alzheimer’s disease with strength, heart and endurance.

• Local businesses and organizations are encouraged to shine a light on Alzheimer’s by lighting their buildings purple this month to show their support and raise awareness.

• Join the Alzheimer’s Association in wearing purple throughout the month, especially on June 20. Share photos of yourself, family, friends and co-workers wearing the movement’s signature color via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. with the hashtag #TheLongestDay. Visit alz.org/cnfl or call 800-272-3900.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. It is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research. Visit alz.org or call 800-272-3900.

Here are some ways you can get involved, or donate to a team already involved:

ONLINE: alz.org/thelongestday

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