A message from Trae Carroll, Chairman of the Walk Committee, event organizer, and Tammy's son.
Hello! My name is Trae Carroll. I am 17 and currently a junior at Edgewood High School, just outside the city of Bloomington, Indiana. My mother, Tammy Carroll, passed away two years ago on October 13th, 2010 after a ten year struggle with Huntington’s disease. She was only 38 years old. I have organized the Tammy Laird Carroll Memorial Team Hope Walk, and need your help!
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a devastating, hereditary, degenerative brain disorder which slowly diminishes the affected individual’s ability to walk, talk and reason. Eventually, the person with HD becomes totally dependent upon others for his or her care. Huntington’s disease profoundly affects the lives of entire families---emotionally, socially and economically. HD typically begins in mid-life, between the ages of 30 and 50, though onset may occur as early as the age of 2. The average lifespan after onset of HD is 10-20 years. The younger the age of onset of symptoms, the more rapid the progression of the disease. Children who develop the juvenile form of the disease rarely live to adulthood. Once symptoms start to develop, a decline in motor function and cognitive thought ensues. Slowly, major muscle groups begin to malfunction, causing the inability to walk, speak, and breathe, which ultimately leads to death. The disease is dominant and hereditary; meaning each child of someone with Huntington’s disease has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation of the gene. Since my mother had it, this includes me. There is currently no cure for this terrible disease, and it affects thousands of families across America. Currently, Indiana has the 2nd highest incidence of the disease (per capita) among states within the U.S.
There are only a few memories I still retain of a time when my mom wasn’t afflicted. These include the late night cooking escapades with my mom and my Grandma, the delicious taste of the chunky cream of wheat we use to make; my mom, sister and I riding our brand new bikes through the streets of Shelbyville, and the several mile walks to the movie rental store in order to have some late night entertainment. These memories, as sweet as they may be, are short in stock. Most of my life I recognized a woman confined to a metal wheelchair as my mother. She was a strong woman, in both mind and body. The disease slowly broke down her body, but it NEVER broke her spirit. As time went on, she couldn’t walk, couldn’t eat, and couldn’t even breathe without difficulty. However, she could always whisper the words “I love you”. In those words, her whole soul was expressed. Her passing changed me.
Undoubtedly, an occurrence such as this could leave an individual broken, confused, or hopeless. I would say all 3 described me at the time. However, as I’m beginning to reach the climax of my adolescence, a change of attitude toward Huntington’s disease in its entirety has begun to rise up within me. No longer do I feel the disease looming over me like some abstract concept, dictating my life’s course. Quite the opposite effect has taken place actually. Today, I see Huntington’s disease as a tangible entity, something that can be grasped, understood, and most importantly, manipulated. This gives me hope that a cure, as a direct consequence, is tangible as well. With that being said, no cure will arise from thin air. Over the past few months I have become involved with the Indiana Chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) and have organized the “Tammy Laird Carroll Memorial Team Hope Walk for Huntington’s Disease”, in honor of my mother. In addition, I hope the walk will raise awareness for HD, and raise money to find a cure. The 2nd annual walk will take place on May 18, 2012 at the Red Bud Shelter of Indiana’s beautiful McCormick’s Creek State Park. All proceeds, yes 100% of them will go toward research for Huntington’s disease. This walk is creating a stepping stone, bridging my current life to what composes the rest of my life, as I plan to become a Neurobiologist/Biotechnologist in order to help rid the world of this devastating disease.
My main point is that we can all aid the process of finding a cure. I’m hosting a walk and have bent my entire life toward this disease, but such extreme measures need not be taken. Anything such as a donation (regardless of size) will help the progress of research. We are desperately in need of sponsorship, walkers and donations in order to make this walk a success. I know that together we can find a cure for Huntington’s disease, and I don’t believe that day is long off.
Thank you for your consideration!
Trae Carroll, Walk Committee Chairman