Raleigh, N.C. — Dozens of people dealing with Alzheimer's disease and their family members visited the North Carolina State Fairgrounds Thursday night for a rally to promote awareness for the disease that impacts more than 170,000 people in North Carolina.
The pain of the incurable disease was on full display, as family members talked about the changes in their loved ones.
"For about the last four years, she hasn't known me," Joe Dunbeck, whose wife has Alzheimer's said.
Dunbeck said he carries a photo of his wife Patricia with him at all times. The couple has been married for 60 years, but in 1999, their marriage changed forever when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
"Things that happen every day still happen and I think 'Oh, I want to tell Pat about that,' Dunbeck said. "Then I realize I can tell her but she won't know what it is."
Event organizers placed hundreds of flyers near the fountain next to Dorton Arena to represent a different Alzheimer's story in North Carolina. Alice Watkins, the executive director of Alzheimers North Carolina, said events like Thursday's helps families that have dealt with the disease get through difficult times.
She also said it's an even that can help remind people not impacted by the disease how it works in thousands of lives across the state.
"It's losing someone you love, and many times, they become a different person," Watkins said.
Jo Anne Pfirman, whose husband died as a result of Alzheimer's, said the disease came out of nowhere for her husband.
"He went to the hardware store one day, he was gone a really long time, came back and told me he had trouble finding the hardware store," she said.
The candlelight reflection ceremony also recognizes Alzheimer's caregivers working across the state.