Once upon a time at The Guthrie Center, a young woman from a local care center living with Huntington’s Disease, asked, “Why isn’t there a pledge walk for Huntington’s?” After all, it challenged Woody Guthrie too. Thus was born “Arlo Guthrie’s Historic Garbage Trail” Walk to Massacree HD, twenty years ago.

Every May since, supporters of charities committed to the care of those living with Huntington’s Disease have walked the 6-mile route of “The Garbage Trail,” connecting the key sites in Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” saga.

Pledges to walkers send them on their way to help fund other charities that care for HD families living in poverty in South America, that run summer camps for adults walking their own HD roads and that support young people living with their HD families around the world; as well as a Massachusetts-based research foundation advancing science in the quest for a cure.

After signing in at the Center, groovy vintage VW Microbuses and their volunteer owners whisk walkers to the site of Alice’s original Restaurant, where the trail begins. It passes the “Police Officers’ Station” in Stockbridge Center, onto the erstwhile dump that was “closed on Thanksgivin’,” and ends back at the Center in Housatonic, the setting for that Thanksgiving dinner that “couldn’t be beat! Every mile along the way there are water stops serving up free snacks and fun! And if you can’t finish the route, those VW drivers are there to return you to the Center to greet the other walkers!

A brain disease genetically inherited from a parent with HD,Its symptoms include progressively disabling involuntary movements and physical features, complex challenges in thinking and mood changes. Although its onset is typically in one’s middle age, its two-decade course eventually compromises the ability to earn a living, drive, care for oneself and communicate. Every member of a family touched by HD is affected: walking one’s own road, caring for another and /or living at a 50:50 risk of inheriting the gene for HD.

Launched by Marjorie Guthrie in 1967, the Huntington’s Disease worldwide movement toward a cure, improved care and increased public awareness has made striking advances, but care and support, in all its forms, remains primary. It’s the primary reason that, as families walk their HD roads, Garbage Trail walkers walk beside them.