Ellis County Man Honors Uncle Through Country Music Concert Benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association

When Craig Sumbler’s uncle died from Alzheimer’s disease in 2021, he left Craig and his sister, Nicola Montelongo, with a mission. He wanted them to spread awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and raise funds towards Alzheimer’s research and support. 

Craig’s uncle, Phillip Garrison, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 62. After his wife became ill and passed unexpectedly, Phillip’s condition declined significantly and Craig and Nicola stepped in to be his caregivers.

“He had just retired from his job, and things started going downhill,” said Mr. Sumbler. “He would forget he didn’t work anymore and that he was in fact retired. Before we started caring for him, he came to Midlothian to visit us for the holidays. When he left to return home, he drove to his former place of work because going home from that location was the only way he remembered how to get to his house.”

Craig and Nicola decided to move Phillip to a memory care facility near them. This was in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and visitation restrictions made things difficult. Still, they tried to visit him every day for dinner and to spend time with him. “One day, when my sister and I were gone, he passed away in his sleep,” said Mr. Sumbler.

After Phillip’s death, Craig attended a concert where Josh Weathers was performing, and was inspired by the artist’s philanthropic activities. “He’s telling his story on stage and I felt like it was my time to give back,” said Mr. Sumbler. “I thought, ‘Why can’t I put on a concert and give the money raised to Alzheimer’s?’”

Craig immediately started doing research and connected with the Dallas and Northeast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. He created the Big Night in the City Foundation, whose mission is to provide support, services and education to individuals, families and caregivers affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia nationwide, and fund research for better treatment and care.

This weekend, Craig and Nicola will fulfill their uncle’s wishes with a benefit concert in Waxahachie, Texas. Big Night in the City takes place on April 29, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. featuring singer/songwriter powerhouse, Josh Weathers, who is based out of Fort Worth, Texas, and his special guest, Johnny Cooper.

“In my research I found out that Alzheimer’s disease really needs some exposure in Ellis County,” said Craig. “My hope is that this concert will spread awareness as well as raise a significant amount of money for the Alzheimer’s Association.”

“We are thrilled to be creating a presence in this community through our work with Craig and hope to continue to bring awareness and resources to Ellis County and beyond,” said Riley Flores, Development Manager for the Dallas and Northeast Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

For more information on Big Night in the City, or to purchase tickets, please visit bignightinthecity.com.

About the Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is a worldwide voluntary health organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to lead 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®. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.


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