Hi there! My name is Laura Pichotta and on Sunday, October 29th, I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon to support vital research at the Huntington’s Disease Center at John’s Hopkins. I’m looking to make an impact with the miles that I run, and I need your help to do that. Let’s back up and answer your first question, which is probably: what is Huntington’s Disease?
Huntington’s Disease is an inherited disorder which causes nerve cells in the brain to break down over time and can present itself through unpredictable motor, cognitive, and/or behavioral instabilities. It’s a rare disease but has what many other neurological diseases do not: a clear cause and therefore a clear target for treatment. And that’s why your support is so critical to the important research that is being done to find a cure for this disease.
I, myself, am not affected by Huntington’s and I must admit that I didn’t know anything about it until just a few years ago. A friend of mine lost her grandmother and her father to Huntington’s and is now facing the same genetic fate. My partner and I were over at her house one night and I listened to her excitement as she shared news of a promising drug trial thought to reduce the mutant Huntington proteins, but that quickly turned to sadness when the trial failed, and she realized that it was the last chance for her own cure. Watching the emotion in her whole body while sharing this realization is when I decided I needed to do whatever I could do to help. Her family has rallied around her and together, they have worked tirelessly to raise awareness and funds to support Huntington’s research. I’ve listened to stories on how this disease has affected her family over the years and how it’s affected so many more.
I’ve read the story of a daughter whose mom suffered volatile outbursts as a symptom of this disease, causing huge rifts in their relationship, as well as a lifetime of self-doubt and worthiness that could never be repaired. I’ve read the story of a daughter working full-time to put herself through college, while also being the main caretaker for her father with Huntington’s, knowing she may very well suffer the same fate, but was too afraid to get tested. I’ve read the story of an avid runner who slowly felt her body losing its ability to perform the once-robotic movements that it performed without question every day. I’ve read stories from dedicated researchers who spend day after day with drug trial results and are committed to finding a cure to end this devastating disease, once and for all.
These stories, and so many more, are what I think about when I feel like quitting on one of my long training runs. Any pain or tiredness I feel in those fleeting moments is nothing compared to what they feel every day. So, for them, I keep pushing because I know I’m doing this for more than just myself. So many people living with Huntington’s have inspired me in their work to raise awareness of this disease and in their fundraising to support research not for themselves, because any successful treatments that come will likely be too late to save them; no, they do it so the next generation may not have to live with the pain of knowing their lives will be cut short.
Please help me make a difference and raise money for the research that will one day lead to a cure for Huntington’s. Together, we can make a lasting impact.