May was Huntington disease (HD) Awareness Month and by all accounts, it was one of the most successful ever. Since 2015, volunteers from across Canada have been working to illuminate various buildings, monuments and statues during the month of May to raise the visibility of HD and Juvenile Huntington disease (JHD).
Thanks to the enthusiasm of the HD community and many HD volunteers, “LightItUp4HD 2019” saw a record number of participating sites, worldwide. In Canada, 55 sites participated in #LightItUp4HD, while another 114 international buildings, monuments and other structures lit up in blue for HD and/or purple for JHD. In 2019, an international total of 169 sites participated – nearly 50 more than in 2018.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to see this initiative continue to grow,” says James Walters, Founder of the Global Huntington Association and the LightItUp4HD initiative. “It started with the CN Tower four years ago, and now look where we are!”
Walters and other HD volunteers across Canada – such as National #LightItUp4HD Volunteer, Melissa Kozak – reached out to HD organizations from around the world and invited them to “LightItUp4HD”. Along with the 55 sites in Canada, the following countries also participated: Australia, Cyprus, England, Germany, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Norway and Spain. A number of cities and municipalities across Canada also made proclamations to declare May as HD Awareness Month. In most cases, this was coupled with a flag-raising event outside the local city hall or civic centre.
“Each year, in addition to the sites we ask to participate, I continue to hear from new HD ambassadors around the world who want to be part of #LightItUp4HD,” adds Walters. “It’s not just creating awareness, it’s also fostering more relationships within the HD community – and that’s a powerful thing.”
Thanks to Walters, Kozak, chapter volunteers across Canada and international partners, #LightItUp4HD continues to increase awareness and in 2020 it will be back to hopefully set the bar at new levels.
For a comprehensive list of participating sites and to view a video montage of 2019 site pictures, please click here.