Culture

Johnston Family Duo Runs To Raise Awareness for Huntington’s Disease

For the Johnstons, 26.2 miles is a way to bond as a family and battle a devastating disease.

Video: Steve Godwin

On May 31, 2015 thousands of runners covered the streets of America’s finest city at the Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & Half Marathon. Among them, Bill Johnston, along with his daughter, Hayley, ran the marathon as part of Team to Cure HD to benefit the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. HD is a neurological condition without a cure. Bill, who works as the Director of PR for the San Diego Chargers, began raising funds for the cause in 2001 after his wife was diagnosed with the disease.

“This Huntington’s Disease is probably as cruel of a disease as I can imagine,” says Bill in the video, which documents his and Hayley’s journey through 26.2 miles at the 2013 and 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego events. Last year was the second year they pushed Ramona, Bill’s wife and Hayley’s mother, in a three-wheeled stroller for the whole distance.

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“We found an organization called Team Hoyt, and a man here in San Diego lent us his chair that he uses for his son,” says Hayley, who works in public relations at Qualcomm. The duo switched off every mile pushing, vowing to get the three of them to the finish “however we got there.”

Last year, Darrell Stuckey and Nick Novak, both Chargers players, supported Bill’s cause by starting the race with him and his daughter. This year, Bill and Hayley ran the full marathon again, pushing Ramona to her third marathon finish. To support their cause, donate to their fundraising page.