By Lori Nannini

Those in search of a pre-turkey trot/walk with a philanthropic twist can join the Arizona Virtual Team Hope Walk at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21.

The event offers the perfect opportunity to get moving on your terms as the holidays approach, according to Lindsay Schroeder, who is coordinator of the walk committee for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America Arizona Chapter.

“We hope that since people can join from anywhere, they will walk or work out or even just sit and relax and have a picnic or watch our virtual event. It has been a tough year for many people, and we really just want people to be together safely and have a good time,” said Schroeder.

The ultimate goal is to promote awareness about Huntington’s disease, a genetic disorder that causes progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the brain.

“It is described as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS, all rolled into one. It is a devastating disease that is hard on the whole family. When I started working, I could see how much it impacts the family. I think lots of family members deal with exhaustion, depression and resentment: It really takes a toll on multiple levels,” said Schroeder, a social worker who became aware of the disease when she was working in the behavioral unit of a long-term-care facility.

Though Huntington’s is often difficult to diagnose, an estimated 5,000 Arizonans live with the disease and 30,000 Americans are symptomatic. More than 200,000 nationwide are at risk of inheriting the disease.

“People often don’t know they have it, and it can typically show up as psychiatric symptoms. It often happens in the prime of life when people have careers and are getting married and having children,” said Schroeder.

The fact that is genetic makes it even more difficult to handle, according to Schroeder.

“When people realize that they have it and that they may have passed it on to their children, that is even harder. They know what is ahead,” she said.

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