WindSong exec leads community effort against Alzheimer’s
After more than a quarter-century career in the automobile industry, Deb Suniga made the decision to sync her work life and her heart. Today, her job may bring her to tears on occasion, but they’re tears of joy.
Losing her great-grandmother to Alzheimer’s was the spark that brought Suniga to WindSong at Northridge Memory Care in Greeley, where she now serves as community relations director. And she sees up close the challenges that her residents and their families face from Alzheimer’s disease.
“I will continue to be a champion for Alzheimer’s,” Suniga said. “I will always be that advocate and voice. This is what I love doing.”
Her passion for the Alzheimer’s cause brought Suniga together with the Alzheimer’s Association. WindSong is a sponsor of the upcoming Greeley Walk to End Alzheimer’s, but she wanted to do more. So, the ‘Wish Upon a Star’ fundraiser was born.
A self-described “Disney fanatic,” Suniga envisioned a festive Disney-themed dinner and auction as part of a friendly fundraising competition with another Greeley-based memory care facility. Then coronavirus happened.
We can’t let the Alzheimer’s Association down
Having already purchased 18 Disney movie DVDs for the gift baskets, Suniga decided it was time to pivot.
“We can’t let the Alzheimer’s Association down,” she said. So, she and her team switched Wish Upon a Star to an online auction. And as word got out, volunteers appeared to help create the baskets, including some of WindSong’s community partners.
Pathways and AccentCare Home Health and Hospice both came forward with themed baskets for the auction in an effort to help WindSong reach its $1,000 fundraising target.
“I didn’t have to reach out to anyone – people were coming to us,” she said. “All of our facilities were hit extra hard during COVID, but we still came together. When people heard what we were doing, everyone came together.”
Then the tears came.
The bidding was so spirited that Wish Upon a Star raised over $2,100.
“I cried,” Suniga said.
The themed baskets were a hit. A hot air balloon ride was donated for the “Up” basket. An outing at Bandimere Speedway went with “Cars.” A day at the beach for adults was a fit with “Finding Nemo” and so on.
While the event was a huge success, Suniga isn’t done by any means. The memory of her great-grandmother, who lived with Alzheimer’s for four years before passing at 106, still drives her.
“It was near and dear to my heart when I got this job,” she said. “My job isn’t done yet. I want to find a cure, and I’ll continue raising money until we do.”
To learn more about the Oct. 3 Greeley Walk to End Alzheimer’s, go to alz.org/walk
The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.