AUSTIN, Texas — The Huntington's Disease Society of America hosted the Team Hope Walk on Saturday in Austin. About 100 people came together to walk around the track at Martin Middle School and raise money to bring awareness to the disease and push to find a cure.
"So, a lot of the research is going towards a cure," said Ryan O'Donnell, Team Hope Walk coordinator. "There's a lot of breakthroughs right now in the field of research. We're really, really close. There are lots of lots of cures … therapies out there that are close. We need to push it over the finish line."
On Saturday, the goal was to raise $20,000. Since coming to Austin in 2015, the group has raised about $170,000 for research into this degenerative, progressive disease that affects the brain's nerve cells.
O'Donnell has been the person in charge of organizing this event in Central Texas for the past eight years. He knew he needed to do something after seeing many family members struggle with this disease.
"A lot of the times Huntington's can be a very isolating disease," O'Donnell said. "It can really put you in a corner by yourself."
Jon Huffman discovered he had Huntington's eight years ago.
"The hardest part is I didn't get to drive anymore," Huffman said.
On Saturday, he decided to hit the track and walk for his disease. He's learned to live every day to the fullest.
"I'm pretty blessed," he said. "Like, you know, I play piano. I play guitar. And I play the mandolin as well."
Now, all he hopes is for is that scientists find a cure soon. Right now, he celebrates the small things in life, including, he said, how he didn't pass down the gene to his kids and grandchildren.