Debbie’s Dash: A Tribute to an Arlington Treasure

By Laura L. Campbell, Special to THE VIEW 38002


[&nbsp]Debbie Wiseman

“Just what’s in a dash?” you ask. In simple terms, it is the time period between the beginning of a life and the end of our earthly existence. You see, my friend, Deborah Dean Wiseman, is all too rapidly approaching the latter of those two dates as the cruel disease, ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), is robbing her of the ability to walk, talk, use her hands, move, eat, swallow, and even to breathe.

Debbie’s brain and mental acuity are intact, but her body is shutting down around her. At present, there is no cure for ALS. And yet, both she and her loving, devoted husband, Dickie, continue to battle to preserve the quality of life offered each day in Debbie’s dash.

But that is only part of the story. Because the dash also represents Debbie in her heyday, too. Truth be told, the fiercely competitive Debbie could probably out-dash most on any field of play.

An accomplished lover of sport, Debbie earned high regard from both teammate and foe for her skill and agility. But without a doubt, her life’s crowning achievement came, first, with the arrival of each of her 3 sons, and, later, in the joy of their acclaimed athletic successes, their pursuit of higher education and careers, their service to God and humanity, and in their love of family and community.

All of this continues to be fostered by the example Debbie sets as wife, mother, and contributing citizen, with a lifetime of service including our local PTA, years of involvement on town committees guiding crucial community development and resulting in the pride and security Arlington residents currently enjoy, crafting elegant floral arrangements for those experiencing times of joy and grief, providing that personal touch to USPS customers on her mail routes throughout the area, actively supporting the programs at our senior center and transporting the sick and elderly to appointments, hosting neighborhood cookouts to help foster a sense of community, writing insightful and interesting stories of local legends/people for The View38002, and countless, adventurous outings and play dates with local youngsters during their off-time from school.

In short, Debbie Wiseman is a giver, and I’m proud to proclaim that ALS has not robbed her of this ability. My personal friendship with Debbie began with our acquaintance as neighbors almost 30 years ago, but a deeper connection has developed over the past 2 years or so, as ALS symptoms crept into her already challenged life—you see, Debbie has accomplished a large number of the things mentioned above (and more) after suffering a devastating stroke over 20 years ago, a horrid side effect of a short-term medication she’d been prescribed, leaving her severely debilitated on one side of her body.

Once she accepted the reality of the stroke, Debbie simply willed herself to recover, then accepted her new limitations, but went right on giving as if nothing much had changed. And she continues to practice the tenets of a true giver to this day. I dare say I am more blessed by Debbie’s friendship than she could ever claim to be of mine.

And if you live, shop, work, drive, walk, bike, worship, or play in Arlington, I assert that your life has been improved or enhanced by Debbie’s volunteer and vocational offerings over the years, as well.

So I ask each of you to now help Debbie with her dash. The season of fundraising for the ALS Foundation is approaching. A Walk to raise awareness as well as research funds will be hosted in Audubon Park (in Memphis) on October 18. Prior to that date, it is likely you will hear of events in Arlington planned to support the fundraising goals of the local ALS Chapter, which provides information, patient/family support, equipment, and medical research funds in the fight against the many mysteries of this horribly fatal disease.

I implore you to consider taking the opportunity to give back to a fine lady who deserved an easier life, but who has instead chosen to take root in the ground where she was planted, and flourish and bloom in spite of all obstacles in her path. Participate in local fundraising events, give generously to registered “Wiseman’s Warriors” team members seeking financial sponsorship, or donate directly online at (look for the Walk to Defeat ALS tab).

Debbie’s state of health prohibits trips away from home very often now, but she continues to crave and cherish every moment spent in the company of her family and close friends. Please help give honor to one who has given so much of herself to benefit our town, its people, and humankind. As Debbie’s dash continues, I hope you choose to become a participant in the life of one who truly is so extraordinary. No doubt, you will walk away from the experience a better and more fulfilled person.

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