A Reflection on 2014

This month, Twitch celebrates the end of its 2014 Tour, the very first stage of a larger distribution plan for the film finished in February. It’s been an incredible ride and I just want to take a few moments to reflect on the journey this film has taken me on.

In February 2014, my team completed the editing of the film and was able to share it with family and friends of the Stanford/Palo Alto community. Monique Coleman, Taylor of High School Musical, flew all the way out to emcee an incredible event of 100 people and four panelists. While this event was only the beginning of a very long tour run, it was by far the most memorable, not only because it was the first, but because it was heartwarming (and a bit overwhelming) to feel the love from all my family and friends who were there to witness the momentous occasion.

Monique Coleman

I made my way down to Santiago, Chile soon after, convinced I would have a break from the film. Of course, Twitch is like a baby and there are no breaks. I found myself screening at an English school with 17 teenagers, thanks to a local advocate, María Jesús. She planned the screening, but did not tell the teenagers that I was coming to speak to them about it. Upon walking into the room, you would have thought a celebrity walked in. The girls clasped their hands to their mouths; the guys sat their wide-eyed. It was a great experience being able to talk to them. At the end, they were very excited to take their picture with me. Many asked for a personal picture and even an autograph. The students even presented me with a personal school pin as a thank you gift.

Santiago Students

In July, I officially launched my tour. The screening dates quickly accumulated. I started off in my original hometown, Boston, allowing my family and even my mum’s best friends to attend. From then on, Twitch and I hit Maine, Delaware, Houston, Austin. We even had the opportunity to screen in the Smithsonian Museum as part of the Genome Zone exhibit in the Museum of Natural History. Now that is an experience I will never forget.

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I knocked off several new states along the way. One of the most memorable ones was Alabama. The University of Alabama Birmingham treated me like a celebrity. From a personal tour of the city (check out the Civil Rights Institute if you have a chance) to a dinner at the local country club, I was spoiled. However, it was a complete shock to me when I walked into the screening room to see a diverse, excited crowd of over 400 people ready to watch the film in the middle of a business day. I’ll never forget the energy, enthusiasm and level of inquiry in this group.

Before starting up a new school, I made a stop in Barcelona as part of the European Huntington’s Disease Network Annual Meeting. Normally, these types of conferences can be very dull and less than engaging if you’re not one of the scientists. However, as a member of the Young Adult Working Group, my skills were put to the test as we developed programs that would help youth all over the world cope with the effects of Huntington’s disease.  The members of these groups were incredibly supportive at my screening and panel discussion, held after four different films were screened that weekend.

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Somehow, I then managed to remain on tour while a student at Stanford. During this time period, I made a memorable trip to Iowa (man those were memorable shakes from the Hamburg Inn), two warm and sunny adventures to San Diego (Auspex and the American Society for Human Genetics hooked a girl up), and spent a day at my little brother’s rival schools (Boo Gamecocks! Go Clemson!).

As I write this, I’m currently working in frigid Philadelphia in a friend’s office. I am preparing to go to Allentown tomorrow, Pittsburgh on Sunday and then wrapping up where I started in Boston.

It’s been helluva year. We’ve screened to over 2,000 individuals in 18 cities across three continents. And that’s just the beginning.

Thank you to all who made the 2014 Tour possible. Thank you for your donations. Thank you for your hospitality. Thank you for your event organizing skills. Thank you to those who listened me to rant about the struggles of the tour as well as my long-winded stories of the victories. Thank you to all who made the past three years of tears, sweat and a little DNA all worth it in the end.

I’ll be making a 10-week stop at Cape Town for another study abroad program (screening on our fourth continent!), but I’ll be back to the United States to finish up the last few months of touring in Summer 2015. (We’re also coming your way, Australia! Stay tuned!)

Thank you once again. Here’s to the next tour being greater than the last!

Happy holidays and New Year’s to the greatest fans out there.

Love,

Kristen

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