Joe Smith continues in the fight against HD …
In recognition of his efforts to raise awareness and funds for Huntington’s Disease, Angels reliever Joe Smith was recently honored with the Guthrie Award at the 15th annual HDSA San Diego “Celebration of Hope” Gala. That night, in front of over 400 people at a house in Point Loma on Oct. 10, Smith gave a heartfelt speech about the disease that is prevalent in his family.
“I hate to use the word money, but that’s what it takes for research, and that’s what it’s going to take to save my mom,” Smith said towards the end. “I’d give every dime I have if they had a cure today.”
More information, and a way to donate, can be found at HelpCureHD.com, a site started by Smith and his wife, CBS sideline reporter Allie LaForce.
Huntington’s disease is a deadly, neurodegenerative disorder that’s inherited within families, causing involuntary movements, physical disability, emotional disturbance and cognitive impairment. Smith’s grandmother suffered from Huntington’s until her death, his mother has been dealing with it for the better part of a decade, and there’s a 50-percent chance he or his sister, Megan Nein, will someday get it, too.
Smith recalled the day his mom, Lee, was told she had HD. It was February 2012. Smith was driving to the Indians’ Spring Training facility in Goodyear, Ariz., when he got a call from his father, Mike, with the news. Then his mom came on the phone.
“I’ll never forget the sound of her voice — it was just empty,” Smith said, breaking down in tears. “I’ve never heard anything like it. That stayed with me for a long time, that sound, when she said. ‘Hi, Joseph.’ Just the way she said it.”
Smith and LaForce launched the website two Octobers ago and have since raised $400,000 through it. Their goal is $2 million for research. Over the years, Smith has learned a lot about HD, which affects more than 30,000 Americans, with another 200,000 or so at risk.
In the meantime, he’s gained a whole new level of admiration for his mother.
“Sorry, Dad, I get my toughness from my mom,” Smith said at one point, drawing a laugh from the audience. “If you talk to her, she’s full of energy, she’s witty, she’s very funny. She stares it right in the face every day.”