Bridge shines for MS Waikato
Vivid blue and purple lights have adorned the length of the Hamilton’s Anzac Parade Bridge.
The colourful display is part of an agreement between Hamilton City Council and charitable trust MS Waikato to raise awareness of Huntington’s disease in the community.
Huntington’s is a rare hereditary neurological condition which impacts around one in 10,000 people, along with their families and communities.
MS Waikato provided support to those affected by multiple sclerosis as well as Huntington’s.
Client service co-ordinator Tracey Larsen said while everyone has the Huntington’s gene, it was when a mutation occurred that they experienced symptoms of the disease.
‘‘Locally in the Waikato we have 31 families under our care, but that’s probably not a true reflection of how many people are actually impacted,’’ Larsen said.
‘‘There’s probably more families out there who have not sought support from us.’’
Every child of a parent affected by the gene mutation has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the disease.
As a result, the condition can continue through multiple generations of a family.
The disease can affect physical, mental and emotional functioning, leading to compli- cations around life decisions including education, career, marriage, family planning, financial and legal issues, and ultimately independence.
‘‘It can be devastating to suddenly learn of having the condition,’’ Larsen said.
‘‘Being diagnosed with the condition can have very widespread impacts.’’
Of the 31 clients with Huntington’s disease that MS Waikato supported, many of them have children, who could experience symptoms themselves in the future.
The condition varies in severity, depending on how much the gene has mutated.
The further it has mutated, the earlier in life symptoms may appear for those who carry the gene.
The blue lights on the Anzac Parade Bridge represented adult sufferers, with the purple lights standing for the exceedingly rare juvenile cases who experience Huntington’s in their teens.
‘‘We’re the only agency in the Waikato that supports Huntington’s disease patients,’’ Larsen said.
‘‘I guess you could liken us to being the link between families and any services that are available in the community.’’
MS Waikato said would it always welcome donations that would go directly towards supporting families with services such as home visits, providing useful information, referrals and advocacy.
Anzac Parade Bridge lit in blue and pink lights to raise awareness of Huntington’s disease.