Kaitlin Klarer

Dallas, TX

I felt a lot of strange emotions the first time I attended NYA Day at the HDSA's National Convention. First of all, I felt anxiety from meeting so many new people, something I didn't necessarily like doing. Then, I felt pain because I was in an environment that forced me to think about the huge monster in my life, Huntington's disease. Lastly, I felt a huge sigh of relief knowing that for once I didn't have to explain my life to anyone. There was no need to elaborate on why my mom looked drunk and unstable. There were no questions because those in the NYA were living the same life as me. These people knew me before I ever spoke a word because they knew I had been dealing with HD in some form in my life. I was at home.

I have been coming back to the HDSA's National Convention for about 5 years now for more of that "at home" feeling I got the first time. The NYA was even with me when my mom passed away 3 years ago from HD. I am currently at risk for the disease myself. HD has been a heavy burden for my whole life, there is no way around it. Being a part of the HDSA gives me meaning. It gives me a chance to grab all the energy that HD has created in my life and put it towards something productive and self-empowering like fundraising, raising awareness and connecting with others. I know my mom would be proud of me. She never got the chance to be part of such a supportive fellowship, HD made her so anti-social that being with others was not an option. I get to do something differently today. I get to connect and make a difference.