On Sunday May 19, 2019 Team Sweitzer will gather at the Riverwalk in Naperville, IL to participate in the 15th annual TEAM HOPE WALK FOR A CURE 5K. We walk to honor our father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Raymond and his devoted wife and caregiver Phyllis. Our hearts have been touched by your past support and we pray that we can once again ask for your generosity. Your donations will help fund research to find the cure for the deadly neurological disease that has affected our family.
The last ten years of Ray and Phyllis' lives were highly impacted by the effects of this disease. As Ray’s retirement approached the family started to notice strange movements in his arms and legs and subtle twitches in his neck and shoulders. There was a fall or two at the train station as he commuted into Chicago to the job he had held for over 40 years. At his retirement party a few coworkers expressed concern over the changes they had seen in his mood and behavior but there were well wishes for the “golden years” ahead. Sadly, those years were a steady increase in Ray’s symptoms, his need to give up his driver’s license and more difficulty in eating and speaking. Phyllis cared for him until his death 10 years later. It was a lonely and stressful existence that took its toll on her health as well. Ray’s diagnosis was based on his symptoms alone. There is now a test to determine if someone has the gene, but at this time none of the six Sweitzer children have chosen to be tested and are not showing any symptoms of the disease.
While Ray was diagnosed later in life, Huntington’s can strike even in childhood. It is most common in the 30-40 year age range; it can rob a family of its financial provider and add a significant financial burden for long term medical care. Over 30,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed and thousands more are at risk. The disease is genetic and a child of someone with Huntington’s has a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. Huntington’s gradually robs a person of their ability to control their body’s movements, affects speech and the ability to swallow. It can also cause dementia. Please visit hdsa.org for the most current information on the disease and the research that is being done. There have been some promising results and many disappointments. There are also many heart wrenching videos of personal stories on YouTube. WITH YOUR HELP A CURE WILL BE FOUND!
By the time Ray was diagnosed most of his children had already had children of their own. The family continues to grow with great- grandchildren that Ray and Phyllis will never know. Our family has been truly blessed and we pray that the disease has not been passed on to current or future generations.
Please know that no donation is too small. Whether you have helped in the past and we can prevail upon your generosity again or if this is your first donation to the cause, you have our undying gratitude! The unwavering support of our family, friends and co-workers gives all of us a huge sense of personal hope that a cure can be found for this terrible disease. Many employers will match donations so please check if you have that option. If you prefer not to use the website we can accept donations to be turned in on the day of the walk. If you have any questions, please ask and if you can walk beside us on May 19th we welcome the support.