Surfing through life with the spirit of aloha

At Risk for Huntington’s Disease

Dear friends in the fight against Huntington’s disease,

To persevere against neurological diseases such as HD and the aging we all face, I have learned that it is essential to develop meaning and purpose and perform mental exercise. 

In May 1997, just seventeen months after learning that my mother had HD, a doctor to whom I poured out my heart about her struggles and my own risk told me: just keep doing what you like to do until the disease hits. In my journey of risk, I have frequently reflected on that advice by imagining the simultaneous challenge and beauty encountered by a surfer riding a wave. 

“Just keep surfing through life!” I tell myself. 

During this, HD Awareness Month, we must recognize how the caregiving and financial burdens of HD frequently force affected families to relinquish their dreams. 

My wife Regina and I have focused on saving, leading us to take usually modest vacations. 

This year, though, we splurged a bit to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary with a trip to Hawaii. 

We found Hawaii wondrous. At a luau we were called to the stage with other celebrating couples to slow dance to a Hawaiian love song. 

I was introduced to the story of the king of surfing, Honolulu native Duke Kahanamoku, also an Olympic swimming champion. 

I was intrigued by Kahanamoku. Back home, I sought to build new dimensions of meaning and purpose by exploring his life, joy in surfing, and culture. 

In Hawaii Regina and I were frequently welcomed with “aloha,” a philosophy Kahanamoku worked to spread globally. 

He wrote: “In Hawaii we greet friends, loved ones or strangers with ALOHA, which means with love. ALOHA is the key word to the universal spirit of real hospitality, which made Hawaii renowned as the world’s center of understanding and fellowship.” 

That solidarity resonates with the fight for human well-being fundamental to the HD cause. In a time of global warming, political strife, and warfare, the world has much to learn from the wisdom of aloha.

Please read more in “Surfing through life with the spirit of aloha,” the latest article in my blog At Risk for Huntington’s Disease, which you can view at

As always, your feedback is welcome. You can post comments on the blog. You can also write me at [email protected]. I’m on Facebook (gene.veritas) and Twitter (@GeneVeritas), too. 

Yours in the struggle to cure diseases, 

Gene Veritas (aka Kenneth P. Serbin)