Community rides to find a cure for Huntington's Disease

(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

CHRISTIANSBURG (WSLS 10) -A community in the New River Valley is raising awareness and money to find a cure a deadly disease.

Saturday is the second annual ride to fight Huntington's disease.

The motorcycle ride is in memory of the Allen and Ferrier families, of Christiansburg and Giles County, who have lost multiple loved ones to the hereditary disease.

Huntington's disease is a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person's physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure.

Terry Allen lost his battle to Huntington's Disease.
Terry Allen lost his battle to Huntington's Disease.

It's a disease that Sabrina Allen of Christiansburg is all too familiar with; one that has created numerous tragedies in her life over time.

Every time she gets on her motorcycle, she says she thinks of her late husband Terry.

One of their favorite things to do together was ride motorcycles, even until the end.

"When he got sick and he lost his license, I bought him a motorcycle with a side car. I would put him in the side car and we would go out and ride around," Allen said. "I'd look around and he would just be looking. Enjoying the scenery. He would just love it."

She's about to take the most important ride of her life, one she hopes will help find a cure for the disease that took her husband.

"Terry knew how his life was going to end. He was so brave in that fight. And he fought to the very, very end," Allen said.

Diagnosed in his 30's, Terry Allen died at age 53. His father and four siblings all died from Huntington's.

"It's my mission now in life is to find a cure for Huntington's," Allen said.

After Terry lost his license because of his disease, Sabrina bought a motorcycle with a sidecar so he could ride along.
After Terry lost his license because of his disease, Sabrina bought a motorcycle with a sidecar so he could ride along.

Huntington's is a fatal genetic disease that breaks down the mind and the body.

"Huntington's is like having Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's and ALS all together. That's how bad Huntington's is," Allen said.

She shows us a collage of the family. Almost all have suffered the same fate.

Little was known about Huntington's when Terry's father was diagnosed.

Most recently the family lost Terry's niece, 40-year-old Jenny Ferrier of Newport. Her brother is still fighting.

Huntington's is a dominant genetic trait. That means if a parent has Huntington's, their child has a 50-50 chance of getting it too. Terry's father didn't have the opportunity to be tested or treated with modern medicine. Allen says her husband decided early on that they would not have children.

"If he didn't have Huntington's, we probably would have had children. It's just heartbreaking," Allen said.

Before they fell in love, Sabrina knew how it would end. And despite the heartbreak, she says she wouldn't change a thing.

"Not for a million years," Allen said. "Terry made me a better person. He made me realize how important life is. How special life is. And you can't take it for granted. He made me know love like I had never been loved before. And he was such a special person."


The reason she still rides, and still fights to find the cure.

Registration begins at 8:30 Saturday, June 11th  at Hill Top Grocery in Newport.

The address is 7887 Virginia Avenue, Newport, Virginia 24128.

The ride starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. in Pulaski County. Tickets are $15 a person or $20 a couple.

All money raised goes to research a cure for Huntington's Disease. To donate click here.

About the Author: