Reptile Owners Show Support For Family Dealing With Pantothenate Kinase-associated Neurodegeneration

According to a story from Pet Age, a combination of business leaders, pet owners, and reptile hobbyists came together and raised $45,000 for the grieving family of Anna Hupp, who passed away this October after being diagnosed with pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN).
PKAN is a degenerative disease of the brain in which is accompanied by a progressive build-up of iron in the brain. The symptom can vary but often include dementia, spasticity, and tremors. The illness, as in Anna’s case, is almost always discovered in early childhood, and most of those with the disease do not survive into adulthood. This is a genetically linked disease caused by mutations on the PANK2 gene on chromosome 20. For more in-depth information about this disease, click here.

Anna’s father Joe had been keeping reptiles as pets for years, but when his daughter received her diagnosis, he began breeding the animals so that he could spend more time at home with his daughter. This was costly for him however, and Joe briefly closed his business as it became clear that Anna’s days were numbered.

The money was raised via auction at a conference hosted by the North American Reptile Breeders Conference (NARBC), an organization that hosts reptile breeding conventions across the country. Normally, the auction helps fund the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK), but it was clear that a community member was in need.

The reptile raising community had known about the Hupp family’s situation for years. As Joe is one of the more active and well known hobbyists, many other breeders had long felt sympathy about Joe and Anna’s plight. As a result, all 450 of the conference attendees were in support of the decision to have the auction money be directed back to the Hupps.

The money raised from the auction was just the most recent show of support for the Hupps. A GoFundMe page started by a family friend shortly before Anna’s passing raised $6,000, and other fundraisers helped raise thousands more as the Hupps struggled to cope with mounting medical expenses. USARK president Phil Goss had no reservations, despite the fact that the cash would have normally been allocated to the organization.

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