Aug. 28, 2010
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA men's basketball program teamed up with the Huntington's Disease Society of America and the UCLA Health System to host the Second Annual HDSA LA Hoop-A-Thon last night in Pauley Pavilion. UCLA Head Men's Basketball Coach Ben Howland and his wife, Kim, served as honorary co-chairs of the event.
UCLA partnered up with HDSA in an effort to raise money and awareness to find a cure for this devastating illness.
The Hoop-A-Thon is a one-of-a-kind speed free-throw shooting contest. Over 400 people were on hand as either spectators or participants as 27 teams of 10 people battled it out to take the championship title of the Hoop-A-Thon.
Team Nestle 1 defeated Team Minzer 75-68 in the finals. Nestle 1 was comprised of Phil Bartenetti, Shannon Mathews, Walt Simon, Leon Wood, Miles Simon, Phil Mathews, Joey Ramirez and Ken Bentley. They made 75 free throws in three minutes. Both Simons and Wood were on last year's winning team.
The crowd on hand heard about the exciting research that takes place here at UCLA from Dr. John Mazziotta, Chairman of the UCLA Neurology Department, and from Dr. Michael Levine and Dr. Yvette Bordelon. They were also treated to a video produced by UCLA Health System that featured Coach Howland and former race car driver John Paul, Jr. A link to this informative and very touching video is provided at the top of this story.
All proceeds from the event will go to the UCLA Center of Excellence for patient care and services as well as research for a cure of Huntington's Disease (HD).
HD directly affects Howland's family as his father-in-law, Arlo Zahnow, had Huntington's Disease.
The list of UCLA alumni basketball players in attendance included current NBA players Jordan Farmar of the New Jersey Nets, Arron Afflalo of the Denver Nuggets, Trevor Ariza of the New Orleans Hornets, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute of the Milwaukee Bucks, Ryan Hollins of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Darren Collison of the Indiana Pacers.
Other alums included Toby Bailey and Director of Operations Tyus Edney from the 1995 NCAA title team, Tracy Murray, Don MacLean, Mitchell Butler and Lou Ritchie. UCLA women's head coach Nikki Caldwell and her staff were also in attendance.
"This is a very important cause to me and my family," said Howland. "For all of these former players to come out tonight ... I can't put into words what that means to me."
HD is a devastating genetic disorder that causes uncontrollable body movements and deprives people of their abilities to walk, talk, eat and think rationally. This disease is currently incurable and it is fatal.
The gene that causes HD is a mutant of a normal gene. The defective gene causes chemical changes in nerve cells that damages brain structures leading to symptoms. The process that causes nerve cells to die in HD may have similarities to other, more common, disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Insights into HD may prove useful to understanding these other disorders.
Huntington's Disease is rare but that doesn't make it any less devastating. HD is a tragic reality affecting 30,000 families in America. The facts are grim for HD: There is no cure, it's fatal and because it's rare, funding for research is sparse. But there is hope. Since HD is caused by a type of genetic mutation that is shared by a host of other disorders, solving HD can lead the way to treatments, and ultimately cures for all of them.
For more information on HD, please visit the HDSA LA Web site by clicking here.
ESPNLosAngeles.com YouTube video by Blair Angulo: