By Anagha Rao

The Huntington’s Disease Society of America hosted a Team Hope Walk fundraising event in Sugar House Park Oct. 16. This event was held to raise awareness for Huntington’s disease and raise money for Huntington’s disease (HD) research.  

The HDSA’s Team Hope Walk is an event that has been going on for over 10 years. In 2011, the first chapter of the HDSA in Utah was started along with the Team Hope Walk. Since then, the event has become an annual tradition for the Huntington’s disease community. 

“Every year, they all see friends and family who only see each other once a year on the walk, making everyone a tight-knit family because they all know what everyone else is going through,” said Morgan Pratt, the head of the Utah HDSA chapter.  

During this event, the HDSA implemented strict COVID-19 precautions including requiring COVID-19 waivers to acknowledge that they will follow the required precautions. All the lines for this event included spots so each person was kept 6 feet apart. There were also frequent hand sanitizing stations available for participants and volunteers. 

In one day, the Utah Team Hope Walk raised over $15,000. Team Hope is HDSA’s largest national grassroots fundraising event, which takes place in over 100 cities across the U.S. and has raised more than $20 million for HD since its inception in 2007. 

“This community is one of the strongest, quirkiest, and most positive communities I have ever seen,” Pratt said. 

The HDSA spreads awareness about this disease to the general public by providing high-quality, evidence-based information about this disease. For caregivers of a loved one with HD, the website offers free therapy sessions and connects people with support groups in their area. 

This organization even offers training and online courses for healthcare professionals to equip them with the tools necessary to handle the physical, social, and even legal issues when dealing with patients with HD. 

However, the most important mission of the HDSA is to find a cure for Huntington’s disease. About 30,000 people in the United States have Huntington’s disease and another 200,000 are at risk of developing the condition. For these people, finding a cure could be life-changing. 

But it's not just about HD patients. “Even if you don’t know someone with HD, it’s still crucial that we find a cure. Once we find a cure for Huntington’s disease, we can use those principles to find a cure for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease,” Pratt said.  

One of the best ways to support the HDSA is to donate. The HDSA allows one-time donations, monthly donations, vehicle donations, or donation of stocks and assets. In addition, the HDSA is always looking for new members to join its board of directors or as a volunteer in the area. 

To learn more about the Utah HDSA, click here