NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- June is Batten Disease Awareness Month in the state of Virginia, and Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam kicked things off with one of his patients in Norfolk.
Dante Herrera is a Virginia Beach teenager who suffers from the rare neurological disorder. Batten disease starts during childhood, and causes its patients to lose their vision, suffer from seizures, and over time leads to mental impairment as well as loss of their motor skills. The illness is terminal.
On Saturday, Dante and his mother celebrated "Dante's Day" at Oceanview Beach Park along with local celebrities and fitness experts who held a "Battle in the Sand" bootcamp charity challenge.
Among those in attendance was Northam. In addition to being Lt. Governor as well as a gubernatorial candidate, Northam is also a pediatric neurologist.
"I diagnosed him at an early age. I've been seeing him since he was age 2, so I've gotten real close to Dante and his mother," said Northam.
Northam added, "This is just a benefit, and we have some fitness people that just have everybody out here, having a good time. A benefit for Dante and for Batten Disease, because right now, there's no cure for it, and we're working very hard to make sure we find a cure so we can help people like Dante."
"We have an uphill battle," Dante's mother said. "I do now advocate on Capitol Hill and in the General Assembly for Dante and others like him."
To learn more about Dante and Batten Disease, visit the Hope For Dante Facebook page.