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Making a Difference: Creating new memories

(NBC15)
Published: Jun. 26, 2018 at 8:43 AM CDT
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A trio of old friends in Janesville is making new memories because Alzheimer’s disease has taken a toll on one member of the group.

Bob Suter and Sam Loizzo are former coaches and teachers at Janesville Craig high school. Suter is a hall of fame, basketball, and football coach – a Janesville icon – according to Sam.

“Someone we put on a pedestal ‘cause he’s so damn short,” joked Loizzo. “That’s why I hang with him see, he makes you feel good,” Suter said laughing.

Suter and Loizzo worked at Craig for decades. But even in retirement, they still now the value of being a team player. Recently, they both attended the boy’s state baseball tournament to watch the Cougars in action.

“We are hoping to see Craig win another state championship that’s what we are all about,” said Loizzo.

Not with them sitting in the stands is their teammate and friend Mike Coyle. “He’s part of us, we were known as the three stooges at the restaurants we went to,” said Sam.

Coyle was the assistant principal at Craig during the 90’s and early 00’s. Coyle was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Dementia a few years ago and Loizzo and Suter did what teammates are supposed to do. They lift each other up.

“It’s hard to see him like this when you’ve seen him before,” said Loizzo.

With no family nearby, Bob and Sam stepped up. They helped Mike with everything: from meals and finances to personal hygiene. They tell the same stories to Mike over and over hoping to get some kind of response.

“You grow attached and it’s just like your brother your best friend or whatever,” said Suter.

Bob and Sam did all they could, but Mike’s health continued to get worse. He now lives at Rock Haven nursing home in Janesville full-time. Now, Bob and Sam come to visit often – hoping to get Mike to crack a smile.

“It means he’s still there with us a little bit,” said Loizzo. “And sometimes I would get him to sing along with a song out of nowhere. I got frickin’ teary eyed you know, because he remembered that you know?

It means a lot,”

Mike may not remember or recognize his friends anymore but for Bob and Sam, it’s never too late to create new memories.

“And he means a lot to us. No other way to put it, it’s like family,”