Local Woman Turns Fear Into Strength with HDSA

Shana Martin turned her own personal struggles into efforts to fight the incurable illness Huntington’s Disease. Having seen her own mother suffer from the terminal illness from a young age, Martin knew she stood a 50 percent chance of developing the disease. Odds she still lives with today.

As a way to cope, Martin began volunteering with the Huntington’s Disease Society of America 17 years ago. Although she began as a spokesperson for HDSA, her role in the organization has grown over the years to become a major aspect of her life.

            Martin became a board member and eventually the president of the Wisconsin chapter. “I got a rapid lesson in hosting fundraisers with that position,” Martin recalls. “I’ve run everything from 5Ks to a log rolling tournament!” She believes that the HDSA improves the Madison community by helping to arrange local support groups for families struggling with Huntington’s and providing community education.

            Martin’s efforts have reached a new level this year with the first annual Re-Prom night for HDSA. One hundred percent of the ticket sales help benefit the organization, providing everything from research for treatment and cures to local patient and family care. Martin hopes that the event will raise awareness as well as honor those who have done extraordinary things in the fight against Huntington’s Disease.

            While Martin began volunteering to cope with the reality, the organization grew to mean much more to her. “I wanted to do all I could to help find a cure and help families currently suffering,” Martin says. “But opening up and helping out has changed my life.”

            Martin hopes that others will be inspired and encouraged to volunteer with HDSA because of how horrible this illness is for families. “There is nothing more rewarding in life than helping others and making a difference in the world,” Martin believes. She knows firsthand that every dollar or hour donated makes a difference, and brings them one step closer to a cure.

The HDSA Wisconsin's first annual Re-Prom: Celebration of Hope is this Saturday, March 3 at the Monona Terrace. Visit madisonreprom.com for information, or contact Shana at shana@shanamartin.com for registration options.

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