YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — June 20 — the longest day of the year — was the day the Alzheimer’s Association honored those living with the disease and their caregivers because, for them, every day is the longest day.
One local man is putting some real muscle into it. On Monday, the day after the one with the most minutes of sunlight, a Yorktown man is attempting to break through the darkness of Alzheimer’s disease.
“No greater love hath any man than to lay down his life for another,” said John Musser, a caregiver for his wife, who has Alzheimer’s. “That is what spouses do. They die taking care of their loved ones.”
John Musser plans to row for 24 hours on an indoor rowing machine at his church in honor of caretakers, like himself, and patients like his wife of 20 years. He hopes to break a world record for his age.
Robin Musser was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s three years ago at the age of 53.
Their daughters describe their father’s devotion as an inspiration.
“They have a beautiful relationship,” said Cass Smith, their daughter.
“Many years, yep that’s my man,” said Robin Musser.
Robin Musser can no longer drive, and has trouble finding her words, but she still knows how lucky she is.
“He’s a wonderful man,” Robin Musser said.
His physical strength is obvious, but John Musser’s biggest muscle is clearly his heart.
“He wants my mom to continue to have all the things that are important to her,” Smith said. “Just putting on her pearls every morning for her makes her feel extra beautiful and he does go above and beyond to do that for her.”
John Musser is livestreaming the row Monday to show whoever wants to watch a microcosm of a caregiver’s journey.
“The future, along we go, the more of her load I take,” he said.
It’s a burden he is prepared to take on, just like this world record attempt.
“I’m a realist. I know the two things are different. Failure here doesn’t mean failure there,” John Musser said.
But he doesn’t expect to fail. With friends and family rowing beside him for support, he plans to welcome each sunrise and struggle with the same determination.
Musser set a goal to raise $20,000 for the Alzhemier’s Association. He had already surpassed that goal as of Monday afternoon.
If you’d like to watch his journey or help with a donation, visit the YouTube livestream page.