Bacoa's 'A Day Out' program celebrates love of baseball

Growing up in Chicago, Don Sidman has loved the Cubs since he was a boy. His father, Roy, a Chicago Transit Authority bus driver, introduced Don to baseball.

"Don's family purchased their first TV so his dad could watch the Cubs," said Gail Sidman, Don's wife for the past 37 years. "They didn't have a lot of money when Don was growing up, so they made going to the Cubs game a big deal."

When Don first started forgetting things in 2015, Gail wondered if he had a hearing problem.

"It was like conversations with him didn't happen," she said.

Concerned, she took Don to a neurologist's office, where he tested positive for a mild cognitive loss that has progressed in the years since. From that point forward, Gail took on the role of her husband's primary caregiver, arranging his medical appointments, taking care of their finances, managing their household and being Don's emotional support system.

After moving to Barrington in 2020, Gail enrolled Don in an adult day program for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

The "A Day Out" program, run by local nonprofit Bacoa, empowers individuals with dementia through strength-based activities like music therapy, arts and crafts, and comfort animals.

"The biggest thing Bacoa has brought me is peace," said Gail, who, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, uses the time Don spends at "A Day Out" to attend her own medical appointments.

"Don really enjoys sharing with everyone at the program. Something about it gets him talking about his childhood and the Cubs."

"Allowing participants to share their experiences is a key part of the community we've built at Bacoa," said Bacoa's Memory Program Manager Pam Pellizzari. "The stigma of dementia can cause people to make assumptions about what an individual with dementia is capable of, but anyone who has visited our program knows our participants have so much to offer."

Inspired by Don's love for Chicago and his memories of watching baseball, Bacoa's "A Day Out" program recently celebrated the Cubs. On Aug. 31, program staff, volunteers, and participants came dressed in their favorite Cubs gear to enjoy a ballpark lunch of hot dogs, popcorn, and root beer while watching videos of old Cubs games.

The Barrington office of Right at Home In-Home Care and Assistance sponsored the event, providing lunch and Cubs-themed decorations.

"Right at Home is supporting a program that not only provides respite care, but also promotes socialization and positive emotional experiences," said Lynne O'Malley, Right at Home's community liaison and educator. "This event is just one way we are working to achieve our mission to improve the quality of life for those we serve."

"Like Bacoa, baseball has always brought people together," said Pellizzari. "For Don, it's the memory of his father; for Gail, the joy of listening to her husband relive his childhood; and, for us, the ability to share this unique experience with our friend."

On Aug. 3, Bacoa staff, volunteers and "A Day Out" program participants came dressed in their favorite Cubs gear to enjoy a ballpark lunch of hot dogs, popcorn and root beer while watching videos of old Cubs games. Courtesy of Bacoa
Pictured, from left, Lynne O'Malley, Right at Home Community liaison and educator; Pam Pellizzari, Bacoa Memory Programs manager; and Terri Channer, Bacoa executive director, at Bacoa's "A Day Out" program celebrating the Chicago Cubs. Courtesy of Bacoa
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