VILANO BEACH, Fla. – Vilano Beach was filled with more than just those looking to soak up some sun Saturday morning. The popular St. Johns County beach was also host to Paula’s Megaman Challange, a triathlon fundraiser benefitting the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.
“Paula is my aunt and she has Huntington’s disease,” said Charles McMillan, who participated in the event. “Shelby, her daughter -- my cousin -- got together with the Huntington’s Association and planned this big walk, run, paddleboard, swim to benefit Huntington Society research.”
Aside from the “Ironman” triathlon, participants could also take on swimming, paddle-boarding and running challenges throughout the morning. There was no registration fee, but donations were collected with a goal of $5,000. An organizer for the event told News4Jax around 35 people registered.
“Being out here seeing the family support, seeing what we can do on a personal level for those we love is awesome to see,” McMillan said.
The Huntington’s Disease Society of America describes “HD” as a brain disease that is passed down in families from generation to generation. The disease causes deterioration in a person’s physical, mental and emotional abilities. Symptoms usually appear during adulthood but can occur in children and young adults.
“It’s described as being similar to ALS, also Parkinson’s,” explained Jaime Latin, president of the Florida Chapter for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. “My grandmother and my father both have passed away from Huntington’s Disease. My aunt currently battles the disease at 64 years old. And I got tested about 12 years ago and I’m gene-positive, so that means eventually, without a cure, one day I will develop the symptoms.”
Latin said if you’d like to support the cause, donations can be made at hdsa.org.