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Car show to honor Wilhelms’ brother

Maskai Ova / The Sun Rod, left, and Jeff Wilhelm have lost a mother, grandmother, multiple uncles and most recently a brother, Dan Wilhelm, at age 55 about two years ago to Huntington’s disease. To commemorate the Wilhelms’ brother, the fourth annual car show will be named the Dan Wilhelm Memorial Car and Bike Show.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Sep 17, 2014.

Wilhelm Chevrolet Buick GMC Co-owners Jeff and Rod Wilhelm and Lisa Wilhelm-Lindberg know what it is like to lose a family member to a disease that cannot be cured. In fact, they have lost multiple family members to Huntington’s disease.

Jeff said Huntington’s disease took the life of his mother, grandmother, multiple uncles and most recently his brother, Dan Wilhelm, at age 55 about two years ago.

Dan Wilhelm was also a co-owner of Wilhelm Chevrolet Buick GMC. He is survived by his two children — Chantelle Wilhelm-Williams, of Jamestown, who has four children, and Lance Wilhelm of Bismarck, who is expecting a child.

To commemorate the Wilhelms’ brother, the fourth annual car show will be named the Dan Wilhelm Memorial Car and Bike Show, Jeff said.

"Dan Wilhelm was part of our family and part of this business since all of us started very young, and it means a lot," Rod said. "This goes back to my mother, and it goes back to her brothers and some of her family. It’s a horrible disease, and we just want awareness of it. You want to contribute to awareness of it … and maybe there will be more research of it, and the next person will have some help."

Jeff agreed.

"The more public awareness, the more we have the knowledge to be able to get a cure," he said.

Steve "Skovy" Jaskoviak, organizer of the event and business manager at Wilhelm, said the James Valley Street Machines started the car and bike show. The James Valley Street Machines and Wilhelm Chevrolet Buick GMC split the cost of the event the first three years, but this year Wilhelm Chevrolet Buick GMC is paying a majority of the car and bike show’s costs.

All proceeds from the event will go to Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

"Our goal is to raise $10,000 for them, and we are about 40 percent there already," Jeff said.

Jaskoviak said many local businesses have donated money toward Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

"We got a fabulous response from the businesses around here," he said.

Huntington’s disease is an inherited brain disorder that results in the progressive loss of mental faculties and physical control, according to Huntington’s Disease Society of America. Symptoms usually appear when an individual is between the ages of 30 to 50 and get worse over a 10- to 25-year period. An individual who has been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease will eventually die from pneumonia, heart failure or other complications.

A cure has not been found for Huntington’s disease, although some medications can relieve some symptoms, according to Huntington’s Disease Society of America. Research also shows that nothing has been found to slow the progression of the disease.

"In support of Huntington’s Disease (Society of America), we are going to make this an annual event to raise money and awareness of Huntington’s disease to try and use the cash to find a cure for this horrible disease that took the life of my brother, Dan, and my mother, and my grandma and my uncles," Jeff said.

Jeff said his father’s side of the family doesn’t possess the gene, but his mother’s side did.

Everyone possesses the Huntington’s disease gene, but individuals who inherit the expansion of the gene will develop Huntington’s disease and possibly pass it on to each of their children, according to Huntington’s Disease Society of America. Everybody possesses two copies of the Huntington’s disease gene. One copy is inherited from each parent, and every Huntington’s disease gene contains a CAG (cytosine-adenine-guanine) repeat in that gene. People who develop Huntington’s disease have longer CAG repeats than those who don’t.

One in every 10,000 Americans has Huntington’s disease, and more than 250,000 are at risk of inheriting it from a parent.

The Dan Wilhelm Memorial Car and Bike Show is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Wilhelm Chevrolet Buick GMC. Wilhelm Chevrolet Buick GMC, James Valley Street Machines and Stutsman Harley-Davidson are sponsoring the event. Car and motorcycle enthusiasts can attend the event for free.

"Last year we had 96 cars and 25 motorcycles, and I’m hoping this year we get at least 130 (cars), which I think we are going to surpass and hopefully 40 to 50 bikes," Jaskoviak said.

Anyone who wants to enter a vehicle or a motorcycle in the show can register on Saturday for free.

Children can play on inflatables at the event, and there will be burgers and bratwursts for a freewill donation that goes toward the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. Seminars will be held on the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette.

Members of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America Grand Forks chapter will attend the event and give a short seminar on Huntington’s disease, Jaskoviak said. The seminar will be held in the body shop.

Jaskoviak said he hopes "next year we can do a 1k or 5k run."

Sun Assistant Editor Masaki Ova can be reached at (701) 952-8451 or by email at mova@jamestownsun.com