Sunday, April 11, 2010

HDSA Hoop-A-Thon

When I was younger, my family and I would participate every year in a fundraising event for the Huntington's Disease Society of American Ohio Valley Chapter. We would collect pledges from friends and family, help setup tables, cones, balloons, etc., and shoot free throws until we dropped (or for 10 minutes, whichever came first).

I am no longer in Ohio, and therefore cannot participate in this event, but I just thought I would share with all of my friends a bit about it. It is taking place this year at the Mercy Healthplex on Saturday, April 17th. So, if you are in Cincinnati, and you'd like to stop by and show some support, it would be greatly appreciated.

I would also like to share with you this letter that I received from my uncle, Den Martin, who is participating in the event this year, like every year. He has been a great support to my family in our time of need (the brother he Tim he mentions in his letter is my dad), and I'm wishing him the great luck in shooting his heart out during his 10 minutes at this year's event.

Dear Friend,

As you are probably aware, I have worked for many years to support the search for a cure or treatment for Huntington's Disease, an hereditary disease that affects my family. One of the ways that I have done this is by working each spring as one of the co-chairs of the Huntington Disease Association, Ohio Valley Chapter Hoop-a-thon. The Hoop-a-thon is a free throw shooting fund raiser in which shooters gather pledges from donors for the free throws that they make. In addition to organizing the Hoop-a-thon, I have participated in the Hoop-a-thon as a shooter.

Recently, the need for additional progress in finding the cure for HD has become dramatically more personal. In my immediate family, I have experienced the passing of my younger brother Rick from HD. I have also seen my two brothers, Tim and Steve, and my sister, Mary, diagnosed with HD and begin the physical and mental deterioration that is inevitable with this incurable disease.

Through the years I have seen my father and 3 of his sisters pass on as a result of HD. In addition more than a few cousins have succumbed to HD. Some of you who are family know these stories all too well. For those of you not familiar with HD the path for an HD patient involves a long, slow process of loss of physical control and a deterioration of mental faculties as brain cells deteriorate and die. Physically this process starts with an unsteady gait and lack of fine muscle control. Eventually the process ends with an almost complete loss of muscle control, including the loss of the ability to speak. The patient ends up bedridden and loses even the coordination necessary to swallow when eating. Mentally the HD patient at first notices difficulty in concentrating, but the end stage of HD presents itself in dementia.

Researchers are making progress. They tell HD families that some treatment or cure may be "out there, but it is many years away." My brothers and sister and their sons and daughters need results sooner than that. This can only happen if more and more researchers join the quest for a cure. And this can only happen with financial backing for these researchers.

This is where you come in.

I am asking you to help me in this year's Hoop-a-thon by pledging to support me as I shoot free throws on April 17 at the Hoop-a-thon. I have attached a pledge form for you to use if you think that you can help. Simply fill out your pledge and mail it to me.

You can also help by joining with me on April 17 as a shooter. Men and women of all ages 6 to 65 participate. Gather your own pledges and come to the Mercy Healthplex at 3050 Mack Road in Fairfield on April 17. Perhaps you could bring a group of shooters with you. You can use the attached brochure to gather your own pledges.

Thank you ahead of time for whatever you can do. Even a few kind thoughts and prayers are appreciated.


Dennis Martin
HDSA, Ohio Valley Chapter

I would like to reiterate that positive thoughts are very much appreciated as my father goes through a hard time, healing from a very bad fall.

If you would like to learn more about the event happening this coming Saturday, or how you can help out the HDSA in it's efforts, please contact Dan Leugers at or visit

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