Turning tragedy into hope, one family has chosen a unique way to raise awareness and funds for a cure for Huntington’s disease. On Oct. 17, the Dickens family and the Huntington’s Disease Society of America’s Los Angeles chapter are holding a whale watch ocean adventure, to help put an end to Huntington’s disease and celebrate the lives of those it has taken.

After a 17-year fight, Merril Dickens lost her life to Huntington’s disease, and broke a lot of hearts. Unfortunately, her story is not unique. More than 200,000 people in the United States are at risk for, or diagnosed, with Huntington’s disease, yet most people have never heard of it. Imagine Parkinson’s disease, ALS and Alzheimer’s – all rolled into one. That’s Huntington’s disease (HD). It gets worse. Because it’s a hereditary brain disorder, the siblings and children of each person diagnosed have a 50/50 chance of developing the disease, too.

“No one should have to go through the misery that Merril and thousands of others like her have gone through,” said her husband, Jon Dickens. “I decided I couldn’t stand on the sidelines any longer and just hope that a cure would be found. So, to honor Merril and her courageous battle, our family decided to do something. Something fun that people would enjoy while raising awareness of Huntington’s disease and funds to help end it,” said Dickens.

In conjunction with the Huntington Disease Society of America (HDSA) Los Angeles chapter, they’ve chartered a boat to go whale watching, an uplifting and life affirming experience.

On Saturday, Oct. 17, from 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., they are offering what many consider a “bucket list” adventure – an eco-tour and ocean voyage aboard a 65′ whale watch boat from Marina Del Rey. Trained docents from the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium will be aboard to share background on the area’s whales, dolphins, sea lions and other sea life in the deep blue waters of Santa Monica Bay.

Tickets are available on HDSA L.A.’s website Whale Watch Page http://greaterla.hdsa.org/. $40 for adults, and $20 for kids under 12.

“Along with the whale watch trip, we’re holding a raffle with a grand prize three night Las Vegas stay in a two bedroom penthouse,” said Dickens. “We’ve been fortunate to have support from local and national merchants who have donated prizes that include fine wine, gift cards for entertainment, restaurants, spas, salons and more.” Drawings will take place on the whale watch boat, but winners do not need to be present. “We’re hopeful that people who can’t make the trip will purchase raffle tickets at www.greaterla.hdsa.org.”

– Submitted by Jon Dickens

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