It was a chilly January day when I had an opportunity to sit down with Casey Herrington, a budding young Savannah entrepreneur, to discuss his new venture the Huntington’s Disease Global Ecosystem Map, also known as HD GEM.
I quickly learned that this venture was not a get rich quick idea, but rather, one which was born out of personal love, grief, and empathy. In 2013 his mother Kimberly, at just 46 years old, lost her fight with Huntington’s Disease.
Huntington’s Disease (HD) is a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates the person’s physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure. HD is known as the quintessential family disease because every child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of carrying the faulty gene. Today, there are approximately 30,000 symptomatic Americans and more than 200,000 at-risk of inheriting the disease.
Casey explains, “I made a conscious decision at my mom’s funeral that I was going to bring value to the HD community in some capacity. I didn’t know when or how, but I knew that was my north star.”
When asked why now? He responded, “After working on my own businesses, as well as working with other entrepreneurs, I ultimately just hit a tipping point. I realized that there is no point in waiting. I had gained the entrepreneurial confidence needed to make this happen, and I’m completely dedicated to it, so I decided to act now.”
There are a lot of resources for those effected by HD, both in the U.S. and Internationally, but it takes a lot of searching to find any one specific resource that you may need. HD GEM is striving to be more than 10x faster at discovering accurate and credible resources than traditional search methods.
According to Herrington, “HD GEM is great for people who don't know what the HD community has to offer. You can now come to one website to browse and discover resources that you might not have ever known existed. I’ve spoken with a lot of leaders in the HD space, conducted a ton of research, and I’m looking forward to shifting the landscape where necessary. It has now become my life’s mission to help create a world without this tragic disease.”
When finally asked about his goals, he responded, “In the short term, I want HD GEM to be translated into multiple languages, so that it may grow and serve a global audience. The long-term goal would be to form a global consortium, and this group’s main goal will be to primarily improve the HD ecosystem’s efficiency. I want to make sure that all players in the HD ecosystem are rowing in the same direction, at the same time, towards the same goal. That includes making sure there’s no redundancy and maximizing the use of available funding sources. It takes a "village" to help those affected by HD, but more importantly, it will take an “organized village" to create a world without Huntington's Disease.”
“Personally, I want to inspire and encourage others impacted by HD to get involved in some way. If even one person does, then I’d be very happy.”
Casey Herrington is a young man on a very important mission, and he would love to engage with anyone who has been impacted by HD. You can email him at Casey@hdgem.org or for more information please visit the HD Global Ecosystem Map at www.hdgem.org
Dominick N. Biangone is a Strategy & Business Development Expert, and has been called a "Master Entrepreneur", having started, grown, and sold multiple businesses in multiple industries. For the last 20 years he has been in the trenches building businesses and serving his dedicated clients. He is currently the CEO of EsquireSuccess, and a member of the Association of Accredited Small Business Consultants. Contact him via email at Dom@EsquireSuccess.com For additional information please visit www.esquiresuccess.com