ROSEBURG, Ore. -- Jason Evans returned to Roseburg and the neighborhood he grew up in, in preparation for an extremely meaningful journey for him and his family: hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
Evans, 37, was born in Roseburg, and grew up off of Little Valley Lane. He attended Sunnyslope Elementary and his dad taught at Jo Lane.
He says that eight years ago his mom and grandfather were simultaneously diagnosed with Huntington's Disease.
Huntington's is akin to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, a kind of hybrid with a wide spectrum of similarly associated physical, psychological and emotional impairments, yet it's less known.
His grandfather passed away in February from complications of the disorder. "Huntington's Disease is a degenerative neurological disorder and it can affect different families in different ways," said Evans. "Often times, associated early symptoms are trouble with speech, trouble with swallowing, trouble with ambulatory tasks, walking and that sort of thing."
Evans got tested after the diagnosis of his grandfather and mother.
Successive generations have a 50% chance of carrying the mutated gene when the parent is a carrier,
Evans carries the mutated gene so he knows his boys have a 50% chance of it too.
To raise awareness, Evans will embark on a solo trek of the entire 2,663 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. "I'll go through almost every natural environment that we have in the United States, starting with desert scapes in the Southern regions and even do a couple of likely ice cap crossings."
He also hopes supporters around the world will donate a penny-per-mile or $26.50. Jason is hoping to further the mission of Huntington's Disease Society of America (HDSA) through donations directly to a First Giving Page, joining thousands of others in furthering their mission to raise Huntington's awareness, develop effective treatments and find a cure.
He plans to complete the trek in four and a half months. "I'm hoping that if I stay strong, I can hike fast through California, with the intention of spending extra time here in Oregon so that my kids and my wife and my dog shadow will be able to join me and hike bits of the trail."
He's leaving on a Greyhound Tuesday evening on a 22 hour trip to San Diego, where friends will pick him up and take him to the starting point. Evans will be dropped off in Campo, California, at the border of Mexico on Thursday, May 1 to begin his trip.