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

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JOLIET – For the second time, the staff and residents of Sunny Hill Nursing Home in Joliet have held a Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which is the world’s largest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. Traditionally, the staff and residents would participate in a local event held at a forest preserve that is open to the community. However, continuing COVID-19 mitigations changed the way the nursing home participates.

“This year, we decided to once again host our own event here at Sunny Hill with a goal to allow more residents to participate,” said Danette Krieger, director of life engagement and volunteer coordinator at Sunny Hill. “We had our first walk here in 2019, which was a success with 30 people participating, and chose to follow the same plans again. We more than doubled our participation with 71 people walking with us this year.”

According to Krieger, the staff and residents have participated in the walk for the past 15 years. The decision was made to move the event to the facility’s 40-acre campus to increase the safety and participation for more residents and provide an opportunity for family members and volunteers to see the beauty of grounds.

“Last year, we were unable to participate in any Alzheimer’s events due to strict COVID-19 protocols,” she said. “Many of our residents are very fragile and extremely vulnerable, so we opted to skip the events.”

Margaret McDowell, Sunny Hill administrator, said the national effort of Walk to End Alzheimer’s does a lot to raise awareness about the poorly understood disease. She said more than 60 percent of the residents of Sunny Hill have some form of dementia often caused by Alzheimer’s. 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 Resident-Centered Care to all those who live here and to their families.”

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s will sponsor the Will and Grundy County walk for the general publicon 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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