The Lion’s Mouth Opens’ Marianna Palka Receives 2015 HDSA Person of Year Award

New York, NY (June 2015) – The Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) hosted its 30th Annual Convention at the Hyatt Regency at Reunion in Dallas, Texas on June 25th-27th.

More than 800 guests attended the world’s largest Huntington’s disease convention which included world-class workshops and keynote speakers, a Team Hope walk, Texas Hold’em Tournament, and Celebration of Hope Gala. In attendance were people with HD, family members and caregivers, volunteers, as well as renowned clinicians and scientists in the HD field. This year marked the 4th largest HDSA Convention in its history.

“HDSA’s 30th Annual Convention was an exceptional event, bringing together the best of education, advocacy and research to create three days of family-focused learning for the Huntington’s disease community,” said Louise Vetter, CEO of HDSA. “For many families affected by HD, Convention is the one time each year when they don’t feel isolated by this rare disease, and they are empowered by the resources and inspiration they gain from Convention to fight HD in their daily lives.”

Filmmaker Marianna Palka received the 2015 HDSA Person of the Year award and thanked everyone via video message from Scotland. Marianna starred in the powerful HBO documentary The Lion’s Mouth Opens which was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Lucy Walker. The short film follows Marianna’s brave journey through the HD testing process with her close friends by her side.

Huntington’s disease is a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure. HD is known as the quintessential family disease because every child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of carrying the faulty gene. Today, there are 30,000 symptomatic Americans and more than 200,000 at-risk of inheriting the disease. Many describe the symptoms of HD as having ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – simultaneously.

The Huntington’s Disease Society of America is the premier nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by Huntington’s disease. From community services and education to advocacy and research, HDSA is the world’s leader in providing help for today, hope for tomorrow for people with Huntington’s disease and their families.

HDSA was founded in 1968 by Marjorie Guthrie, the wife of legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie. Woody died from HD complications in 1967 when he was only 55 years old, but the Guthrie family legacy lives on at HDSA to this day.

To learn more about Huntington’s disease and the work of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, visit or call (800)345-HDSA.
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