2013 HDSA-OC Ambassador of the OC Marathon: Randy Crabb

It is not uncommon after learning you have a terminal illness to go through a gamut of emotions; you may experience fear, anger, guilt, depression, frustration, and/or denial. But for Randy Crabb, who recently learned that he has Huntington’s Disease, it was more of a confirmation to what he already knew in his heart. Huntington’s Disease, commonly called HD, is a progressive neurologic brain disease for which, at this time, there is no known cure. It is an autosomal dominant disease which means you cannot “catch it” from someone else; it runs in families. If a parent has HD then their children have a 50% chance of having the HD gene as well. And if you have the gene it is not a disease where you MIGHT get HD; you DO have it and will develop symptoms if you live long enough. Most people with HD become “symptomatic” in their 30’s, 40’s or 50’s, which is the case with Randy. There is also a juvenile form (JHD) which strikes babies through teenagers. JHD has a much faster progression rate with a life expectancy of 10 years at best.

Randy lost his grandmother, mother, and uncle Jack, to HD. And five years ago his cousin, Jim Denney, after having suffered the excruciating pain associated with HD, took his own life. HD has been equated to taking the symptoms of MS, ALS, and Parkinson’s and rolling them all together to describe the symptoms and pain you go through with HD. Eventually a person with HD will lose their ability to walk, talk, eat and reason; they become totally dependent on others to care for them while they suffer a slow and painful death.

Randy was not surprised when his doctors at the Long Beach VA hospital told him his test came back positive as he had started becoming symptomatic. Five years ago Randy was arrested for DUI, but he had not been drinking! He passed the breathalyzer but failed the agility so he was arrested. It wasn’t until his blood test came back negative that the charges were dropped; this is a very common occurrence that happens to people with HD because of the “Chorea” (irregular and uncontrollable body movements) that often accompanies HD. Of Randy and his 4 siblings, he is the only one that has tested positive for HD. He could have run away and suffered quietly but instead, Randy decided to run forward, become pro-active and spread awareness about HD so others may learn more about this rare fatal disease and hopefully want to become involved in the battle.

Randy has always liked to run, but it became a passion when he was just 19 years old during his service in the US Navy where he was a heavy equipment operator. After his service ended in 1979, he continued running on and off over the years, but never had any formal/proper training.

Randy is the first person to tell you that he has not always made the best choices; he fell on hard times, made some poor choices and ended up addicted to drugs. But he is also the first person to tell you “That by the grace of God,” that part of his life is far behind him; Randy has proudly been clean for 10 years!

For the last 5 years, Randy has attended and become very involved in his church, Bethany Church in Long Beach and the “Celebrate Recovery” program. Currently Randy resides at the Long Beach Rescue Mission and it is there that he met Richard. Richard introduced Randy to a running club called “Up and Running Again”, and it is with that group that last year at the age of 55 Randy ran his first half marathon at the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon.

After learning that he does indeed have HD Randy decided that as long as he can still walk, he is not going to let it stop him from achieving his dream of participating in and completing the, “The California Beach Cities Challenge”. The Beach Cities Challenge is a race series that includes three Southern California marathons – the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, the Orange County Marathon, and the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon.  His first of the three races will be the OC Marathon, in which he will run the half marathon with “Team HDSA-Orange County” in an effort to raise awareness and funds for HDSA (Huntington’s Disease Society of America). Randy is dedicating his OC Marathon run to his cousin, Jim Denney.