Walk to find cure for Huntington’s disease in Naperville area
By Angela Bender For The Sun May 17, 2011 1:38PM
At a glance
Team Hope —
Walk For A Cure
When: May 22, registration begins at 9 a.m.
Where: Danada Forest Preserve, Wheaton
What: A 5K walk to raise funds for research, family care and education for those who suffer with Huntington’s disease
Cost: $20 per person
To register: Visit www.hdwalk.org
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Two people brought together by an awful disorder have made it their mission to find a cure for Huntington’s disease. In doing so they started “Team Hope — Walk For A Cure,” which since its inception in 2005, has turned into the largest fundraiser for the Illinois Chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.
Dave Hodgson, who lived in Naperville for more than 20 years, lost his wife, Paula, in 2004 to Huntington’s disease. Since her diagnosis in 1986, the couple was dedicated to finding a cure by attending events and donating to the cause. After her death, Dave joined a support group where he met Susie, who had lost her husband to the same disease. They married and decided they wanted to do more to honor the 1,500 families in Illinois who suffer because of a Huntington’s diagnosis.
“We each have kids that either have inherited this disease or are 50 percent risk for inheriting the defective HD gene,” Dave said. “We must find a treatment or cure, so that this is the last generation to know HD.”
Huntington’s disease is a disorder passed down through families in which some nerve cells in the brain degenerate. This degeneration causes uncontrolled movements, loss of intellectual faculties and emotional disturbance. As the disease progresses, concentration becomes more and more difficult, and the person may have difficulty eating and swallowing. The average life expectancy once the disease has been diagnosed is about 15 years.
Dave and Susie have seven children between them. Susie’s three children have all chosen to be tested for the hereditary disease. One has been found to have the gene for Huntington’s. All four of Dave’s children have decided not to be tested.
“They have all become very educated (about HD),” Dave said. “They would rather not know their fate.”
Teri Belgio has known the Hodgsons since she was in high school. Belgio’s Catering, where she works as an event coordinator, not only donates hot dogs for the walk, Teri also personally participates.
“I saw what Huntington’s has done to their family,” Teri said. “I am supporting them hopefully to find a cure so that they don’t have to go through that — if heaven forbid, any of them do end up having the gene for the disease.”
The first year of the walk, Hodgson said they hoped to raise $3,000. They raised $18,000. And, in six years they have raised $272,000. This year they are hoping to bring in more than $50,000. All money raised goes to HDSA to fund research to find a cure.
“I’m amazed at how generous people were. And each year the money raised got bigger,” Dave said.
It is Teri’s hope that through the walk, not only will more money be raised, but also more people will learn about the disease, which will lead to a cure.
“It’s one of those diseases that’s not well known, and it’s such a horrible disease,” Teri said. “It’s definitely something I think people should be more aware of.”