Putting the spotlight on UnitedHealthcare Champions

Honoring UnitedHealthcare Champions

Al DiGuido has always had a passion to help others. After attending an event that was raising money to help a family with a young daughter battling cancer put food on the table, he felt compelled to do more – much more.

“I looked at my buddy Pete and said, ‘how is it that in the United States of America, people who have children who are dying have to stand in front of strangers and beg for money for clothing, for food, for essentials?’” “Pete said, ‘I dunno.’ And I said, ‘That’s not a good enough answer.’”

Al created the charity Al’s Angels — a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting children and families battling cancer, rare blood diseases, natural disasters and severe financial hardship.

“What started out in my garage has provided, this year, 3,200 families with their Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hannukah meals,” Al said. “When we go and provide them with these meals, the recipients on the other side, they’re sobbing. It’s really not about the 3,200, it’s about that one person.”

This year, Al was named a UnitedHealthcare Champion, which celebrates New Englanders 65 and older who make extraordinary contributions to their communities. Launched in 2022 with the headline “Amazing knows no age,” the program recognizes these amazing individuals and makes a donation in their name to a charity of their choice.

“Being named a UnitedHealthcare Champion has been a tremendous honor for me. I really do believe each of us has a responsibility to give back to others, but there’s a lot of people in tremendous need,” Al said.

For UnitedHealthcare, honoring the New England Champions is one way to combat ageism, and in the process promote things we know help older adults live healthier lives – namely, being active, having purpose, and being socially connected. 

“We know that ageism exacerbates social isolation, depression, cognitive decline, and negative effects of illness, so combatting it is a mission we all need to embrace,” said Mary Snyder, Northeast CEO for UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare & Retirement business.  

The other 2023 UnitedHealthcare Champions are:

Barbara Amodio (Connecticut): Barbara is a founder and administrator of Bike Walk Bolton. She started the program after retiring from teaching. She has organized several local community events as well as provided a history of the Hop River Trail, which goes through Bolton. Barbara's passionate advocacy for trail usage has helped many people realize the health benefits of being outdoors and exercising in a safe environment.

Lucy Bisson (Maine): For the past several years, Lucy has served as board chair of the Lewiston Auburn Senior College – an all-volunteer organization and one of 17 Senior Colleges in Maine. The mission of this organization is to “provide intellectually stimulating learning opportunities and social events for persons 50 years of age or older.”

Jean Saunders (Maine): As a nurse, nursing administrator and later health care administrator, Jean saw firsthand the many unmet needs of older adults, especially those with chronic conditions. In retirement, she has spearheaded many efforts to assist older adults with issues such as food security, fall safety, transportation and more.

Martin Costa (Massachusetts): Thirty-seven years ago, Martin sustained a life-altering spinal cord injury when a tree limb fell on his back. He suffered paralysis of his lower limbs and now walks with leg braces and canes. However, he did not let this stop him from doing the charitable work he loves. Martin started an all-volunteer litter clean-up program, Clean Our Westport, in response to complaints of trash piling up on the sides of roads in the community. Over the past three years, Martin's volunteer group has picked up over 100 cubic yards of litter.

Leah Moon (Connecticut): Leah has prioritized volunteerism and charity work her whole life. She created a new organization called Autism Families CONNECTicut to help provide greater support to those living with autism in central Connecticut. The nonprofit serves more than 700 people per year, and creates a space for community connection and belonging for children, teens and young adults with autism, and their families.

To learn more about the UnitedHealthcare Medicare Champions program, visit UHCChampions.com.

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