An Uncanny Encounter

When Judy Nelson (left) and Suzanne Coyne met a few years back, it was as if they were staring into the eyes of a soul sister. As they became friends, they discovered their backgrounds bore an almost-scary resemblance to each other.


Both are Midwesterners, Judy from Valparaiso, Ind., and Suzanne from Des Moines, Iowa.


While Judy wore green and white as she led cheers for the Valpo Vikings, Suzanne was dressed in black and orange as she cheered on the Valley High School Tigers.


Both pursued nursing careers. Both love to travel and have taken their children on extensive trips. Both left the nursing field to pursue careers in business: Suzanne’s path led her to become regional vice president for physician services at Banner Health, and Judy’s led her to the position of senior vice president of an international hotel chain.


Both sent their daughters to Notre Dame Preparatory. And that’s where they met.


Now they are pouring their experience and organizational skills into Candlelight Capers, the major fundraising event for Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. The Dec. 3 event will be held at the Arizona Biltmore.


In its 57th year, Candlelight Capers started as a tea dance.  Today, it is a black-tie party that promises to be entertaining as well as elegant. As guests arrive, they will be greeted with chamber music. Formal portraits will be offered. During the cocktail hour, an expert will make truffles and show guests how to pair them with wine. A casino will offer a break from the dance floor (and vice versa).


A traditionally lively party, this year’s event is themed Winter Solstice. Proceeds will benefit the Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center located on the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center campus. Founded in 1979, the center

serves all of Maricopa County plus northern Arizona, providing poison information and first aid treatment recommendations to Arizonans via a free, 24-hour helpline.


“We have a unique opportunity this year,” Nelson says. “In past years, the recipient has been an organization within Good Samaritan. The Poison and Drug Information Center is a service that reaches everyone, no matter what hospital they may visit.”


“That has broadened the scope of the party,” adds Coyne, whose husband, John Hensing, is executive vice president and chief medical officer for Banner Health.


Suzanne Coyne and Dr. John Hensing with their two daughters, Katy (left) and

Aishling Coyne.


Honorary chairs for the evening are Cheryl Hintzen-Gaines and Ira Gaines.


After the party, the pair will still be glued to the hip. They have started a business – Firefly Products – together. Though they aren’t ready to reveal their product, they have said women are going to love it! They plan to debut it in Manhattan. A foundation to help women enter or re-enter the job market will be associated with the company.

– C. Miller



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