Record number of runners participate in the HudsonAlpha Double Helix Dash

The Vega Family

Over 850 runners and walkers from the Huntsville community laced up for a good cause on April 2. HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology hosted the eighth annual Double Helix Dash 5K and one-mile fun run at McMillian Park on HudsonAlpha’s campus. The race takes runners through the research park, with the final stretch winding through the double helix path which was built to mimic the structure of DNA.

Proceeds from the race support HudsonAlpha’s childhood genetic disorders research which continues to help children and families across north Alabama and beyond.

“This was another extremely successful Double Helix Dash,” said Karen Petersen, HudsonAlpha director of annual and planned giving. “So much hard work goes into an event like this and we are grateful to our sponsors, partners, volunteers, runners and walkers. Funds raised through the Dash support children struggling with rare genetic conditions. Everyone who participates contributes to this incredibly important cause.”

Each year, a special child is recognized as the Double Helix Dash childhood champion. The 2019 honoree was Tiana Vega. In late 2015, HudsonAlpha scientists discovered that Tiana has Rett syndrome, a neurodegenerative disorder that is almost exclusively seen in girls and affects about 1 in 10,000 worldwide.

“It’s rough thinking that she’s not going to be able to do things that her sister can do or that her peers can do. It’s hard to cope with that,” said Jeannette Vega, Tiana’s mother. “But Tiana is all smiles, all laughs. She’s just a happy girl and I don’t know what I would do if she was not like that. She’s super strong.”

“It’s going to be a hard road, but we are thankful for the support and resources available right here in Huntsville, like HudsonAlpha,” said Victor Vega, Tiana’s father.

Click here to see the Vegas tell the full story of finding a diagnosis for Tiana.

Help us to end the diagnostic journey for more families. Click here to donate to HudsonAlpha’s childhood genetics disorders project.