Breaking the Cycle: Huntington's Disease
Organized by: Robert Rippberger
Help support the ongoing journey of Breaking the Cycle and Matt Austin as he takes on Huntington's Disease, a terminal illness.
In 1970 Matt Austin’s grandfather, Earl Francis Austin, was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease at 40 years old. Matt’s great grandfather, Alfred, also had Huntington’s disease but was mis-diagnosed and committed to a state mental institution where he stayed until his death. Huntington’s Disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that effects muscle coordination and leads to dementia, much like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. If your parent has it there is a 50% chance of inheritance. Unfortunately, there is no cure.
On May 4th, 1996, Matt’s father, Andy Austin, rode his bike to the Water Street Bridge in Rochester, NY and jumped off, ending his struggle with HD. He left behind a wife he was estranged from and two young sons, Michael and Matt. This is where our film starts.
In 2010 Matt Austin was diagnosed with juvenile HD and was medically discharged from the marines at the age of 20. With no more than ten years to live and amidst a tough family history with the disease, he and his uncle turned negatives into positives and departed on a 400 mile bicycle trip down the East Coast.
The goal was to spread awareness about the disease, to meet other families fighting the battle, but what it turned into no one could have foreseen. A family coming together for the first time in generations to face their trauma, to support one another, and show what confronting an illness should really be about.