Eau Claire native and professional hockey player Jake Dowell announced Sunday that he has tested negative for Huntington’s disease.
Dowell, who played college hockey at UW-Madison and professionally with several teams, issued a statement that he was tested for the disease that killed his father, John, and has afflicted his older brother Luke.
“After far too many years of wondering my fate, I finally got the courage to get tested for Huntington’s disease a few weeks ago,” Jake Dowell wrote on his Facebook page. “It was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can’t explain the relief and happiness my family and I have to be able to say that yesterday I found out that I do not have HD.”
“I can’t thank all of you enough for your support for me, my family and all the other families fighting this horrible disease.” Dowell added. “Your willingness to show up to any fundraiser, make generous donations to help find a cure, and your kind words have not ever been overlooked, and never will be. I promise to keep my focus on helping to find a cure and won’t quit until we have it. I owe that to the HD community and most of all, I owe that to you, Dad and Luke.”
Huntington’s disease is a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure.
During his 12-year struggle with Huntington’s disease, John Dowell of Eau Claire raised the national awareness of the disease thanks, in part, to the prominence of Jake, who played on the Badgers’ 2006 national championship team. His Badger teammates came to Eau Claire for three fundraisers at Pine Meadow Golf Course from 2005-07 where they raised thousands of dollars for Huntington’s research. John Dowell died in February 2014 at age 58.
There was a 50-50 chance that Jake carried the gene that causes Huntington’s disease, but he put off being tested until recently.
Jake Dowell currently is playing with the Rockford Icehogs, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Chicago Black Hawks.