Bellevue Presbyterian Church hosted a fundraiser Friday to raise awareness and money for Alzheimer's Disease research.
The day holds special significance for those affected by the disease and their families. As the first day of summer, it is also commonly referred to as the "longest day" of the year. And the battle against Alzheimer's disease is a long and lonely walk.
This wasn't an ordinary yard sale and bake sale in Bellevue. Hundreds of people came to look at thousands of items donated by church members and the community.
And in many ways, the event honored one of its members: Joyce Wisby, who - despite her long days - is always at her best.
Not long ago, she was an early education specialist at Drake University and her husband, Jim, was a successful prosecutor.
But then Alzheimer's disease hit, and within four months, Jim Wisby had to quit practicing law as his wife quit her job to take care of him.
They moved to Nashville for more family support, and they found spiritual support at Bellevue Presbyterian Church.
"I equate a person living with Alzheimer's as a person becoming a baby again," Joyce Wisby said.
She takes care of her husband every day as his fulltime caregiver.
"We just like being together," she said. "We celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary two days ago."
It would be easy and understandable if Joyce Wisby slid into despair, but that's not her. She does not flinch.
"There's never a time that I have a break," she said. "I've built a cocoon around myself to protect myself right now to have the strength that need. I have to be the strength for both of us. It's a very, very hard journey."
It's hard to see your quick-witted husband who loved to dance slide into such a quiet world where there is no cure and no effective treatment.
With Alzheimer's, this is it, and it does not get better.
"If the tables were turned, he would take care of me. I just want spend every minute I can," Joyce Wisby said. "We kind of like each other, don't we?"
Joyce Wisby said she does not look back. She is sustained by family, friends, church and true love.
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