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Sunny Hill Nursing Home residents and staff participate in annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s
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Sunny Hill Nursing Home residents and staff participate in annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Yearly event raises funds and awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease

For more than 15 years, the staff and residents of Sunny Hill Nursing Home in Joliet have participated in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the world’s largest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. Traditionally, the event would be held at a local forest preserve and be open to the community. However, in consideration of resident participation Sunny Hill elected to accommodate the event on campus. Additionally, Covid-19 mitigations changed the way the local event was organized.

“Last year, we were unable to participate in any Alzheimer’s events due to strict COVID-19 protocols,” said Danette Krieger, Director of Life Engagement and Volunteer Coordinator at Sunny Hill. “Our residents are very fragile and extremely vulnerable, so we opted to skip the event last year.

“This year, we decided to once again host our own event here at Sunny Hill with a goal to allow more residents to participate. We had our first walk here on campus in 2019, which was a success with 30 people participating, and chose to follow the same plans again. We had 71 people walk with us this year.”

According to Krieger, moving the event to the facility’s 40-acre campus increased safety and allowed more residents to participate and provided an opportunity for family members and volunteers to see the beauty of grounds and enjoy the outdoors.

Margaret McDowell, Sunny Hill Administrator, said the national effort of Walk to End Alzheimer’s does a lot to raise awareness about this poorly understood disease. She said more than 60 percent of the residents at Sunny Hill have some form of dementia often caused by Alzheimer’s and that dementia is not a normal part of the aging process. More than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.

“As our aging population increases, so will the number of people living with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia,” McDowell said. “I am proud of the commitment of our staff and our families to raising money to help study this debilitating disease. Sunny Hill provides Person-Centered Care to all those who call Sunny Hill home”

The Will and Grundy County walk will be held on Oct. 2 at the Rock Run Forest Preserve, 3395 Black Road in Joliet. So far 90 percent of the goal of raising $80,000 has been met. To join a local event or to donate, visit the website: https://www.alz.org/walk.

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