Dinner will raise funds for family struggling with Huntington’s

The Enterprise — Elizabeth Floyd Mair

Lori Rodino, at left, and her daughter Gianna Rodino, attended “Superheroes for Superheroes,” a 5K race held at Tawasentha Park as a fundraiser for the family on Sept. 25.

GUILDERLAND — As the Rodino family continues its struggle with Huntington’s disease, a fundraiser will be held on Thursday, Nov. 10, at C. M. Fox Real Estate Center, at 2390 Western Ave.

The event will be a casual dinner featuring ziti and meatballs, dessert, and beverages. Food will be provided by local restaurants and stores including Elegant Touch Catering and Albany Beverage. Entrance will be by donation, with a suggested donation of $20.

The Rodino family of Guilderland has been dealing with Huntington’s, which results in the death of brain cells, for eight years, since youngest member, daughter Rachel, was diagnosed with it. The family then learned that the disease was hereditary, and that father Rick Rodino had it. Rachel died of complications of Huntington’s in 2010 at age 8.

The family’s two other children, Anthony and Gianna, were also diagnosed in 2011, when they were 19 and 17, as carrying the mutated gene that causes the disease; people who carry the gene will eventually develop symptoms.

There is currently no cure, and treatment involves managing the symptoms. Talking and walking both become difficult, and there is frequently a decline in thinking and reasoning skills.

Mother Lori Rodino is the only family member without the mutated gene. She acts as the caretaker for her husband, who still lives at home and is in the advanced stages of the debilitating disease. She said that he can no longer speak, although he understands what people are saying, with some difficulty. He can walk, but he falls often, without warning, she said.

Son Anthony is now 24. Daughter Gianna, 22, is a case manager at St. Peter’s Hospital and also works at Best Buy. She and Lori Rodino will both be at the fundraiser.

Asked how she is holding up, Lori Rodino said, “My philosophy is one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. I just really pray that the research continues. It’s getting close and I hope in the next few years there will be something to slow the progression. I always tell my kids, ‘Have hope.’”

Neighbors, friends, and community organizations have held “dozens” of fundraisers for the family over the years, “as this family’s need never goes away,” said Kathy Burbank, one of the organizers of the Nov. 10 dinner.

A site that was set up in 2015 to try to pay off the Rodinos’ mortgage has raised over $32,000 of its $300,000 thousand goal. The site is at www.gofundme.com/lhfwqg.

The dinner, which runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., will also include raffles of items such as gift cards, movie tickets, and bottles of wine.

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