Former University of St. Thomas basketball player B.J. Viau’s mom, Deb, suffers from Huntington’s Disease. For the past 13 years, B.J. and his family have held a Hoop-A-Thon in Apple Valley, Minnesota to raise money to fight the disease.
The Hoop-A-Thon is an afternoon of basketball fun and fundraising. Last year’s event raised $45,000 for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. At this year’s event on April 18 at Eastview High School (1:00 – 5:00 p.m.), The University of St. Thomas Dance Line is performing along with the Minnesota Timberwolves Dunk Team. To raise funds, participants are challenged to make as many free throws as they can in 5 minutes. Sponsors, who are signed up in advance, pledge a specific dollar amount for every basket the sponsored shooter makes.
B.J. notes, “ The event is meant for every type of person whether they have HD in their families or not. It doesn’t matter if they have never touched a basketball before or if they’ve played in the NBA.”
How did the event get started? “ We decided to get involved and attend a fundraiser,” said B.J., “Our first event we ever went to was a Hoop-A-Thon put on by the MN Chapter of HDSA — the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. It was a small event, but we had a lot of fun. On the way home from the event I asked my Dad if we could hold our own Hoop-A-Thon to raise money for a disease I knew little about, other than it affected my mom. He agreed, and the next year we did everything we knew about putting on a fundraiser — which was little to none. We told all of our friends and classmates and brought everyone together for a couple hours of shooting hoops. With a couple of weeks preparation we raised $6,000. We were amazed and thought if we could get everyone to come back and bring someone else it could grow. We have used this idea for the last 13 years and it has snowballed from year one.”
Per the Hoop-A-Thon website (www.hoopathon.com), “Huntington’s Disease is a devastating, hereditary, degenerative brain disorder for which there is, at present, no effective treatment or cure. HD slowly diminishes the affected individual’s ability to walk, think, talk and reason. Eventually, the person with HD becomes totally dependent upon others for his or her care. Huntington’s Disease profoundly affects the lives of entire families — emotionally, socially and economically. HDSA was founded in 1967 by Marjorie Guthrie when her husband, Woody Guthrie, the American folk singer, lost his long and painful battle with HD.”
B.J. and his family provide an inspiration to us all. When faced with an incredibly difficult situation, they’ve met the challenge head on. They hope to reach their goal of raising $50,000 at this year’s Twin Cities Hoop-A-Thon.