2011 Team Hope Walk Ambassador
Larry Fuqua is an avid surfer; he has been surfing almost his entire life. He was born in Manhattan Beach, Ca. but grew up far from the ocean in Thousand Oaks, Ca. And then, at the age of 13, his cousin took him to the beach and taught him to surf. Little did he know then that more than 45 years later his love of the ocean and passion for surfing would actually become a significant part of his very existence?
Larry has Huntington’s Disease (HD); an inherited neurodegenerative, disorder for which there is no treatment and no cure. He is slowly losing the ability to walk, talk, reason and even swallow; yet, Larry considers himself to be very blessed. He is married to a wonderful woman who was his friend long before becoming his wife two years ago, has three incredible daughters, beautiful grandchildren and a best friend in his dog Max; all of whom bring a smile to his face when he speaks of them.
The son of an engineer, Larry attended Thousand Oaks High School before going on to earn a Bachelor of Sociology degree at Vanguard University of Southern California in Costa Mesa, Ca. While at the university, he had the distinguished honor of meeting and shaking the hand of the Dali Lama, who was at that time visiting the United States.
Larry’s desires to assist and serve lead him to become a police officer for the cities of Costa Mesa and San Diego a number of years ago and then to a 20 year position for the United States Postal Service; all the while continuing to surf every chance he had taking second place one year in the police Olympics.
Larry has always been accustomed to helping others which has now carried over in his quest to help people understand more about HD, to help others afflicted with this fatal disease as much as he can, and to do his part in helping to find a cure so that no other generation has to live in fear of this deadly disease.
HD has slowed Larry down considerably, especially in the morning when he first gets up. Along with HD comes “chorea” (Greek word for dance) which in the involuntary movements of the body especially of the legs, arms and face, so Larry uses a cane, especially in the morning, to help him walk. But three to four days a week you will still find him out in the water somewhere between Huntington and Newport. It is difficult to get his board to the surf now; logistics are tough and he has to find spots that are physically closer to get to the water. Yes, HD has slowed him down, but it has not stopped him!
Larry says the most important thing he wants to convey to others who have HD or another medical or physical disability is, “There is no limitation. If I had been tested for HD at 30 and waited my whole life to get sick then I would have missed out on a lot! One thing that jumps out at us is you can do anything you want. For me, there is something about surfing; I get exercise and adrenaline rushes, which can be totally chaotic and scary, yet exciting at the same time; but mentally it can be the greatest, most serene and peaceful experience you will ever have. So live while you still can…”