Kate’s Real Food is happy to support “A Ride with Matt”. Matt was recently diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a genetic brain disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to cognitive degeneration and dementia. It is a terminal illness that leaves Matt with no more than ten to fifteen years to live. Here’s a little bit about their journey:
“A Ride with Matt” – Their Mission:
“A Ride with Matt” is a joint feature documentary film as well as a charity fundraising effort to raise money for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. Through grass roots funding, sponsorship, and donations in-kind we are raising $150,000 for the feature documentary. All proceeds and additional money raised will be donated to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America for treatment, support, and helping find a cure for Huntington’s. You can check out their project here.
Who is Matt & How Has Huntington’s Effected Him & His Family?
During the Summer of 2012, Adam Austin and his nephew, Matt Austin, will depart on a bicycle trip across the East and West Coasts of the country.
Along the way, Adam will teach Matt about cycling and about his father, Andy, whom he barely knew as Andy died of Huntington’s when Matt was three.
On their journey, Adam and Matt will raise awareness, gain insight, and explore possibilities of treatment with institutions, medical professionals, and other families coping with the disease.
In 1970 Adam Austin’s father, Earl Francis Austin, was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease at 40 years old. Adam’s grandfather, Alfred, also had had Huntington’s disease but was mis-diagnosed and committed to a state mental institution, where he stayed until his death. Adam’s uncle, Bill, was the first to discover the family’s shared disease, when tests proved that he himself had HD. When he told Adam’s brother, Andy, that he thought he had it as well, Andy did not respond well.
On May 4th, 1996, Andy 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 Matthew. This is where our film starts.
Adam idolized his brother growing up. Andy often traveled around the country using any means possible: hitch hiking, drive-away cars, hopping trains, taking Greyhounds. Andy inspired Adam to seek what makes life such an adventure. He inspired Adam not only to live, but to live boldly.
Upon recently hearing that his nephew, Matt Austin (now 21), was diagnosed with Huntington’s, Adam saw an opportunity to make up for Matt’s missed opportunities at getting to know his own father. Adam decided to take Matt on the same cross-country adventure that he and his brother always talked about doing together, to teach Matt about cycling, about Andy, his battle with Huntington’s, and at the same time to do outreach and learn about the Huntington’s community as a whole.
The trip will begin down the East Coast, visiting the place Adam and Andy were born and the bridge where Andy committed suicide. Matt and Adam will then fly to the West Coast, biking from San Francisco and ending up in Colorado where Andy’s ashes were laid to rest. A beautiful, Rocky-Mountain sanctuary at the top of the Continental Divide; a site Andy always wanted to share with his son but was never able.
The film is Cinéma vérité, periodically interspersed with interviews that serve to inform the background of the story and what it means to have Huntington’s. While bicycling along the East and West Coasts, filmmakers will catch the moments as they unfold of Adam connecting with his nephew and teaching him about his father, while they talk with medical and research institutions, and visit and learn more about other families coping with the disease.
Thousands of families across the country have their own Huntington’s story. But often times it is a story turned away from or overlooking. In telling Adam and Matt’s adventure story, we hope tell everyone’s and at the same time the universal story of life, death, and family.