I have been working with individuals and families affected by Huntington’s disease since June 2000 when I became the medical director of the HDSA Center of Excellence at The Ohio State University.
You may wonder why there are pictures of me on this page with a basketball. This is not because I am athletic or because I am a big basketball fan. It is because I will do almost anything for “the HD cause,” even learn to shoot baskets.
After I gave an HD research update for a support group, an organizer of our HDSA Hoop-a-Thon fundraiser asked if I would be willing to help him. I said, “Sure, I will do anything you want.” The next thing I know, not only I am giving a talk but a flyer is circulating for pledges that says “Dr. Sandra Kostyk, Five in Five Minutes,or Which ever comes first, Make a pledge of support.” Everyone apparently thought that this was funny. By Easter pledges were up to over $700 a basket.
With so much riding on my shots, I figured that I ought to see if I could shoot. How hard could it be? My younger son, a former high school varsity basketball player,took me out to practice. I got only 4 baskets in close to an hour! I could hardly get the balls to the hoop. This was looking bad. My older son took over coaching and had me out after work. I got 8 baskets in 20 minutes several days later. We kept practicing.
By the day of the event, the pledges were up to $1,453 a basket! The pressure was on. I missed all the baskets in the first minute. Then, I sunk one. Then, warmed up and psyched, I made 3 perfect baskets in a row and then made the final of the five baskets after a few more misses. Total cumulative pledges:$7,256.
If I can make 5 baskets in under 5 minutes, working together we can definitely find better treatments and a cure for HD. In the meantime, we can keep raising our arms over our heads each time volunteers are needed. Raising your arm upward regularly can also help build strength needed for getting that basketball to the hoop for next year’s HDSA Hoop-a-Thon fundraiser.