September 14, 2023

Zionsville walk aims to raise funds, awareness to fight Huntington's disease

A photo of advocates from the Huntington's Disease Society of America's Indiana Chapter's 2022 fundraiser walk.  - Carly Smith/Submitted Photo

A photo of advocates from the Huntington's Disease Society of America's Indiana Chapter's 2022 fundraiser walk.

Carly Smith/Submitted Photo

The Huntington's Disease Society of America's Indiana Chapter will host a one-mile walk in Zionsville on Saturday. 

Huntington’s disease is a fatal genetic disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain. Roughly 41,000 Americans experience disease symptoms and more than 200,000 at risk of inheriting the disease.

Jessica Ondell has been involved with the HDSA’s Indiana chapter since 2020, and the chapter president for almost two years. She hopes people take part in the national Team Hope Walk to raise money and learn about Huntington's disease.

“Huntington's is like having ALS, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's all at once,” Ondell said. “So we just want people to become aware of this disease because it's very devastating and there's no cure. But it's also very similar to a lot of neurological diseases.”

“Huntington's disease has affected my family for generations,” Ondell said. “My mother had it and passed from it, and my sister currently has the disease. So just wanting to spread awareness about this rare disease is something that's always been important to me.”

Team Hope is Huntington's Disease Society of America’s largest national event, which takes place in over 100 cities across the country. The fundraiser has garnered over $24 million for Huntington's disease since 2007. 

The local chapter has already exceeded its goal of $17,500. Funds support advocacy, social workers and the Huntington’s Disease Center of Excellence at Indiana University’s Health Neuroscience Center.

But Ondell and other advocates have said they want people affected by the disease, as well as those who aren’t, to come and show their support. 

“While HD might be rare, there are other families and friends here to support you within your very own community,” said Camille Colletti, HDSA’s Upper Great Lakes Regional Development Officer. “With laughter, smiles, and a day of fun; our Team Hope events bring us all together to embrace our challenges, because family is everything.” 

The fundraiser will also include auction items and a raffle. There will also be a kids area with crafts, bubbles and yard games. 

Potential participants will be able to register the morning of the event. The Team Hope Walk - Central Indiana will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mulberry Fields, 9645 Whitestown Rd..

Contact WFYI’s health reporter Elizabeth Gabriel at egabriel@wfyi.org.

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