'Alzheimer's Lives Matter' - Deer Park man hopes to raise awareness for disease after wife's diagnosis
A Deer Park man wrote a special message on his roof to help raise awareness and support for Alzheimer's research.
At the age of 58, Jeff Ray's wife, Bonnie, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease and her health has rapidly deteriorated.
Jeff, a retired FDNY firefighter who responded to 9/11, wrote the words "Alzheimer's Lives Matter" in hopes that the world will see.
"With 6.5 million Americans going through this with us, it's devastating, it's just devastating because you can do nothing," Jeff says.
Jeff says his wife was the most perceptive and insightful person he knew. He says he first knew something was wrong with Bonnie was during the holidays.
"I said, 'Bonnie, what did we get the boys and she said, 'For what?' and I'm like, 'For Christmas,'" Jeff says. "I didn't get anything and that's not her."
Two years following the initial discovery, Bonnie doesn't speak much and has trouble walking.
Jeff says Bonnie's doctor told him it was time for her to go to a facility, but he wasn't ready.
Along with the emotional burden, Jeff will eventually be spending $7,000 a month out-of-pocket to care for Bonnie. He says his wife also gets great care at Gurwin Jeiwsh Rehab Center in Commack.
Jeff says picking her up from there keeps him going.
"I cannot remember a time she wasn't smiling, they bring her out and I said, 'Bon Bon,' and she loops up and she smiles," Jeff says. "This is what it's all about."