May 28, 2014

Experience AZ

Local 70-year-old skydiver places in photo contest

On May 21, Grantmakers in Aging (GIA) announced the selection of 18 winners of its first “Friendly Faces, Friendly Places” international photo contest, supported by the Pfizer Foundation. Out of the 500 photos submitted worldwide, one local photo was announced as a winner. The photo of Surprise resident Sharon Vizzini skydiving at age 70, placed second in the “Older and Active” category. The photo was provided by Sun Health Senior Living and submitted by the Greater Phoenix Age-Friendly Network.

Vizzini is a resident of The Colonnade, part of Sun Health Senior Living. Vizzini was inspired to go skydiving after her daughter went and the two soon went skydiving together, “I didn’t ever think I’d be jumping out of a plane at 13,000 feet. However, my daughter did it…By skydiving, she was facing her fears.” Vizzini says it is never too late to spread your wings, “Don’t limit yourself to things that you have done in the past. If a new great adventure comes along, don’t be afraid to do it. I think you will be really surprised at what you can actually accomplish. You are only limited by your own fears.”

Grantmakers in Aging launched the competition to increase an understanding about what makes communities great places to grow up and grow old. John Feather, GIA CEO shared, “Our winning photographs tell meaningful stories of how older adults are vitally connected to the life of their cities, towns, and villages in many different parts of the world.”

Ron Guziak, President and CEO of Sun Health, stated, “On all of our campuses, we are committed to supporting people’s dreams and connections to their communities. Individuals like Mrs. Vizzini embody the sense of adventure that actually fulfills their dreams. At Sun Health, we help people live the life they want.”
Sun Health is partnering with Benevilla, another nonprofit agency located in Surprise, Arizona to establish Northwest Valley Connect, a new membership-based transportation program. The program offers transportation to older adults, information and referral, and mobility management services to triage requests for transportation and coordinate available resources.

Northwest Valley Connect is one of a number of pilot sites supported by the Greater Phoenix Age-Friendly Network. The network is hosted by the Maricopa Association of Governments and supported by a number of partners including Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Grantmakers in Aging, and the Pfizer Foundation. The goal of the network is to better connect older adults to people of all ages.

The winning photographs in the six categories of the competition may be found on the Community AGEnda webpage. Community AGEnda is a national initiative funded by the Pfizer Foundation and administered by Grantmakers in Aging. The Greater Phoenix Age-Friendly Network is one of five sites nationwide participating in the initiative.