Huntington’s walk and 5k to raise funds, awareness
Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013 23:09
Volunteers and supporters will flock to Joyce Park in Hamilton, Ohio for a day of exercise, giving back and raising awareness by participating in the fifth Walk and 5K for Huntington’s Disease
The money raised through entry fees and donations during the walk and 5K, which will be held on Sept. 28, is to be donated to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA), according to event coordinator Tina Sunderhaus.
“Huntington disease is a terrifying, hereditary, degenerative brain disorder that causes a loss of cognitive, behavioral and physical control,” Dr. William Krauss of The Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis said. “It is incredibly rare. Only about 30,000 Americans have it.”
According to HDSA, Huntington’s has an equal rate of occurrence in men and women. Krauss explained that a child of a person with Huntington’s has a 50 percent risk of inheriting the disease.
There is no cure or effective treatment for the rare disease, which is why it is important to raise money for further research. Sunderhaus said the annual walk has raised over $77,000 since its inception five years ago when her then 16-year-old daughter, Caitlin, was diagnosed with Huntington’s.
“We noticed her staggering and tripping at around age 14, which are early symptoms,” Sunderhaus said, “Her biological father had Huntington’s but I didn’t realize you could get it as a teenager,”
According to Sunderhaus, it is difficult for Caitlin to see her friends go to off college after she was forced to drop out of Miami University’s due to her worsening condition.
Caitlin has had to stop driving because of her spasms. Sunderhaus said her daughter had been accused of driving under the influence because her disease caused her to stagger and slur her speech.
Sunderhaus said she was concerned Caitlin would turn her back on God and become angry as she watched her friends gain independence, but Sunderhaus explained that the diagnosis has brought their family together and made their faith stronger, thanks to community support.
“My church family and friends came together and asked what they could do to help. I looked into it and we realized there was not a walk in our area that raised money for Huntington’s,” Sunderhaus said, “So we organized this and raised $14,000 with just about 100 walkers the first year.”
According to Sunderhaus, last year there were over 300 walkers. She said she expects to see the numbers climb even more this year because they are introducing a new 5K-race portion of the event.
“We’re hoping the race will attract even more participants,” Sunderhaus said, “As of now, our event is the biggest revenue generator for the Ohio Valley chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America”.
Miami University sophomore Maura Colwell, said she plans on running in the 5K this year.
“A friend I am close with in my hometown has Huntington’s disease in her family,” Colwell said. “Watching her experience such a disease really inspired me to run this 5K and raise awareness. It’s an incredibly worthy cause”.
The 5K will begin at 9 a.m. and the walk will begin at 11 a.m., Sept. 28. Registration is open until the day of. Those seeking more information about Huntington’s disease, or looking to register for the walk or to donate can visit http://www.hdsa.org/thwhamilton.