Just 30 minutes into her “Coffee for a Cure” fundraiser at The State Theatre Tuesday, nine-year-old Virginia Buck was already accomplishing her goal of raising money for Huntington’s disease research.
“I got a 50 dollar bill,” she exclaimed as she handed out coffee and raffle tickets to passersby.
Lisa Buck, Virginia’s mother, said that her daughter has been “collecting pennies” to help find a cure for the disease — that the young girl has — since she was 6 years old.
“She knows it’s very rare for her and other children to get Huntington’s disease and that there’s very little research effort to even find a cure,” Buck said.
According to the Huntington's Disease Society of America, Huntington’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that causes motor, cognitive and behavioral problems. It's very rare for the disease to develop in children, making it difficult to develop successful treatments for them.
Despite having Juvenile Hungtington’s disease, Virginia’s personality and compassion are what first inspired Ryan Adam Myers to help her effort.
“She’s an extraordinary little girl,” Myers said. “She’s so exuberant and full of energy. I’ve never seen a person, even one who isn’t sick, be more enthusiastic than she is.”
Myers, who will be a Penn State student next semester, organized “Coffee for a Cure” with the help of Virginia’s family and members of the community. Event volunteers spent the entire day serving donated coffee in an effort to raise both money and awareness for Huntington’s disease.
“I love coffee. It keeps me going, and I think that’s the case for a lot of people, especially college students,” Myers said. “If you look around, almost everyone has a coffee in their hand, and a lot of people have been generous enough to buy theirs with a donation.”
The money raised from “Coffee for a Cure” will be given to the Huntington’s Disease Society of American Center of Excellence at the University of Iowa, which treats and counsels those affected by the disease, in addition to searching for a cure.
“It’s been amazing to see so many people helping Virginia, especially because she’s been trying to raise money for so long now,” Buck said.
Despite the long hours and the bitter November weather, by the end of the day the volunteers had filled their first water cooler with cash and had started on a second one — the coolers of which were donated by the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center.
“As cold as it is today, it’s been wonderful to see people stopping and donating,” Ann Weight, Virginia’s grandmother, said. “I’m truly amazed.”
Myers said the event had an “amazing” turnout.
“The Penn State family is truly phenomenal,” Myers said, adding that the incredible success of the event has inspired plans to continue “Coffee for a Cure” for other little-known childhood diseases.
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