NEENAH (NBC 26) — The annual Team Hope walk/run returned to Neenah’s Riverside Park for its seventh year to raise awareness for Huntington's disease. Team Hope is the largest fundraising event put on by the Huntington's Disease Society of America.
Brad Shell, an attendee of the event, has personal experience with the disease.
“I am here to help raise funds for a little-known disease called Huntington's disease. Which is something that affected me personally. My wife had it and she passed away earlier this year,” said Shell.
The event helped raise funds and awareness in hopes of finding a cure. People from all over the community who have been affected by the disease came to walk, run and gather with other families, according to Shana Verstegen, the event coordinator.
“Have a day where they don’t worry about Huntington’s and can feel very, very hopeful about the future and hopefully finding a cure someday.”
The fatal disease affects a person's physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure. Every child of a parent with Huntington's disease has a 50-50 chance of inheriting the gene.
Verstegen lost her mother to Huntington’s disease in 2013.
“My mother was diagnosed with Huntington’s when I was six years old and the way I coped was by volunteering,” said Vergesten. “I did test negative for the disease, but this has become my life passion.”
Everyone in attendance had a special bond through the disease, including a volunteer without a family connection.
“What makes it really special is talking with them and hearing their stories, it’s just an amazing thing to be a part of,” said Joseph Scala, a volunteer.
For these families, crossing that finish line meant more than just finishing a walk.
“They are doing something to help find a cure for Huntington’s disease. A bit of excitement, a bit of hope as they cross that finish line," said Verstegen.