By Nina Seminara
Kristen Powers, a current Stanford senior and Summit alumni, is an activist for Huntington’s Disease (HD) education. As an adolescent, she watched as HD ravaged her mother’s body and entire life, taking away her ability to move, speak and think. Ultimately, the disease took her mother’s life in 2011.
Children of HD victims have a 50-50 chance of inheriting the mutated gene, so Kristen was aware even as a young girl that she may suffer the same fate as her mother, but she did not allow those fearsome odds to overtake her optimism. Even at age nine, Kristen was already pledged to resilience and to improving the world--particularly for those affected by HD. In high school, she began the Chapel Hill High School Green Tiger Campaign and Garden to raise awareness about HD, and it has since been lauded by several prominent national organizations and public figures, including Vice President Joe Biden.
At age eighteen, Kristen became eligible for genetic testing to determine whether she had the mutated gene that would eventually lead to Huntington’s Disease. She documented her protracted and nerve-racking experience through the film Twitch, in the hopes that it would spread awareness about the horrors of HD and inspire stronger action to discover a cure. In 2015, Twitch became available online worldwide, and now Kristen’s film has over 50,000 views and has raised upwards of $75,000 for Huntington’s Disease research. Kristen has also been featured on TEDxTeen for her work. Learn more about her story by visiting the Twitch website.