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Shana Martin honors mother's battle with Huntington's disease

Published On: Mar 11 2013 01:14:16 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 05 2013 12:32:39 PM CST
Athlete honors mother who suffered

Log-rolling champ Shana Martin and her father George are research and education advocates for Huntington's Disease, which mother and wife Debby suffered. Debby Martin died Saturday from the disorder, which affects muscle coordination and cognitive ability.


Shana Martin is a Madison native, a world-class athlete and a champion for those living with Huntington's disease.

Martin's mother, Debby, died Saturday from the genetic disorder that slowly robs people of their motor functions.

With her daughter and husband by her side, Debby Martin lived beyond the boundaries of Huntington's disease, which affects 30,000 Americans.

Last March's Re-Prom event was a chance to celebrate lives like Debby's.

"I look forward to this evening all year," said Shana Martin, "Because it's the one night that my mom can get out of there and see everybody else and celebrate."

The Re-Prom was just one of several events Shana Martin organized to honor her mother's battle. The five-time log rolling world champion utilized the athletic stage to spread awareness and raise money for a cure.

"I've realized it was my passion, and it was all for her. And it went from a few small fundraisers to big events like we had last weekend," Shana Martin said.

And just like last year, Shana's father, George, donned his tux, and picked up his date for the Re-Prom event.

But a respiratory illness that night determined where the two would say goodbye.

"I got to the emergency room," George Martin said. "They put me with a social worker and sat me down and said, 'We're sorry, but your wife passed away in the ambulance on the way.' And it was such a shock because she was all dressed up to go to the prom. She went to heaven instead."

Hours after losing Debby, father and daughter found the courage to dance at Saturday's "Re-Prom."

"We knew she'd want us to go," George said. "You could almost feel her telling us 'go.' This is an important event, and she was with us there in spirit, I'm sure."

She wasn't lucky enough to see Shana walk down the aisle, but weeks before her death, Debby got to see the engagement ring on her daughter's finger.

"Her eyes don't normally lock on anything, and they locked on the ring," said Shana. "And we're very, very sure that she knows that I'll be taken care of, and that my dad and I are going to be OK."

The Martin family is asking the Madison community to remember the life of Deborah Martin by contributing to the Wisconsin Chapter of the Huntington's Disease Society of America.

For more information on services for Deborah Martin, read her obituary here.