RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- For nearly 20 years, Benchmark Senior Living at Ridgefield Crossings has been known in the community for its services. Now, the facility is going on the map for as a world record holder.
Benchmark Senior Living will soon be listed in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for creating the longest-ever friendship bracelet -- measuring 2,166.9 feet long. That beat the prior record, which was set in 2009, by 91 feet.
About 60 people turned out at Ridgefield Crossings recently to watch as the world record was set. Surveyors from Luchs Consulting Engineers in Meriden measured the bracelet, which is made of stain ribbon and was draped around the entranceway to the building.
Krystee Knapic, corporate director of programs at Benchmark Senior Living, said over 5,000 residents and associates, as well as family members and friends of residents at all of the 50-plus Benchmark senior living communities throughout New England helped make the bracelet.
The idea to set a world record came about in April when residents talked about this year's theme for Benchmark, which is "Journey through the years in Broadway."
Terri Ramsey, program director at Ridgefield Crossings, said residents were watching a PowerPoint presentation about fads and fashions of the 1930s. "We discovered it was a big deal at that time to set a world record," she said.
"Then, one of our residents -- 89-year-old Leon Bouchard -- said we should break a record, and it grew from there," she said.
To get approved to set a world record for the longest bracelet, it had to be at least five colors and had to be a form of macrame, which is a type of knitting. Also, there had to be a public event to show the record was broken, according to Knapic.
Bouchard was at the ceremony to witness the world record. "It's exciting to walk outside and feel all these people," said Bouchard.
According to Ramsey, the project raised awareness for senior care, senior life and memory care.
She said most of her residents have a memory span of five minutes to two hours and therefore do not remember making the record-breaking bracelet. Despite this, she explained that residents still have a lot to live for.
"People think once you get dementia, it's a death sentence and there is no hope for quality of life, but this is not true. People with dementia may not know each other's names, but they recognize each other's faces and the feeling they get when they see each other. Over time, they connect a feeling with a face."
"It's all about having residents live the best quality of life," Knapic said. "Whenever someone has an idea or a wish or dream, we make it happen."