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Chargers touchdowns worth more than just points on the scoreboard

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Bill Johnston is the Director of Public Relations of the San Diego Chargers, (talk about a time consuming and stressful job). He is responsible for all the communications for the Chargers, which include media relations, everything published on the team’s web site, and the team’s community outreach and public affairs. However, people may not know that he struggles each and every day, not from work, but from his wife’s battle with Huntington’s Disease (HD).
Many people do not know about HD. It is not common, nor is it curable. The first symptoms of HD are uncontrollable and involuntary movements in the fingers, feet, or face. This can lead to more serious problems such as loss of coordination and balance, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing or eating. As the disease progresses, judgment, memory, and other functions from the brain that come so easy to the average person begin to deteriorate into dementia. People with HD know firsthand what it’s like to be imprisoned in their own bodies.
To help find cures for this terrible disease, the Chargers are teaming up with a program called TD’s to Cure HD. Every time the Chargers find the end zone, a certain amount of money will go towards finding a cure for HD. It’s up to all of the fans to donate for every touchdown scored. There are three membership levels to participate in. They range from $5.00-$20.00 per touchdown. But the fans don’t just walk away with a charitable heart, they also reap some excellent benefits. If someone were to donate $20 per touchdown, they would receive two tickets to a private Happy Hour with the Chargers’ receivers, including Antonio Gates, Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson, and the rest of the receivers and tight ends. In addition, they would receive four invites to exclusive “TD Day” at Chargers Park during 2009 Training Camp which includes a chance to meet players. So, no one walks away empty handed.
“This is the second year of the TDs to Cure HD program. Last year we raised about $9,000 in its first year with very little publicity. We hope to continue the program and feel the proceeds can increase every year,” Johnston said. Johnston’s wife can no longer walk, struggles to talk, swallowing is difficult, and her uncontrollable muscle movements have become very pronounced. She hasn’t been able to take care of herself and has lived away from home at an assisted living center for nearly three years.
“For me, even though I see her every day, I just miss my wife. And I worry about my kids. Children of a parent with HD have a fifty-percent chance of inheriting the disease,” Johnston said. However, he does not give up on hope for a brighter future.
“There is always hope. Hope keeps us going. The gene that causes the disease was discovered about twenty years ago. That has given scientists renewed hope and a definite direction,” Johnston said. Here we are, stressing and worrying over little things like a bad hair day or being stuck in traffic, not even imagining what Johnston and so many other families affected by HD must go through each day. Things we take for granted like talking and being able to swallow our food would mean the world to people who must live with HD.
For more information or to make a donation to TD’s to Cure HD go to http://www.hdsasandiego.org.





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