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HDYO Hot Seat with HDYO Chair BJ Viau

March 3, 2015

Huntington's Disease Youth Organization

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February 28, 2015


Find out what happened when we sat down with HDYO Chair BJ Viau to interview him for the HDYO Hot Seat!

Name: Bryan Viau Jr (everyone calls me B.J.)

Age: 28

Role at hdyo: Chairman of the HDYO Board.

1: What made you get involved with HDYO and how did you get started?

Guest: I have been involved since day one when Matt told me his dream of creating an organization solely to support young people. He inspired me to want to make it a reality and I have done my best the last four years to help bring that dream to life.

My mom, Debbie, passed away from HD in 2011 and she was always the person that inspired me to get involved. I grew up holding fundraisers with my family. This led me to attend the HD World Congress Conference in Vancouver in 2010. Attending this conference changed my life for the better as I met Matt, many other HD friends, and also found a job with my current employer, Lundbeck.

2: What superpower would you have if you were a superhero? (You are only allowed one so pick wisely)

Guest: I would want to have the ability to read people’s minds (when I wanted). It’s a dangerous power to ask for, but I feel I could use it to make the world a better place.

3: Now that we are in 2015, do you have any new year resolution for the year we have started?

Guest: Yes! My resolution is to floss my teeth twice per week….to many cavities lately :)


4: Where did you grow up? tell us something interesting about the place.

Guest: I grew up in Apple Valley, Minnesota (USA). It is a nice suburb just south of Minneapolis. Our summer’s are hot and humid and our winter’s are very cold with lots of snow. I hate snow! It’s a great city, but I am not sure I would recommend it as a vacation spot.


5: What came first the egg or the chicken?

Guest: It had to be the egg! Maybe other types of birds created an egg and it evolved into a chicken?!? Either way I am thankful because I love eggs!

6: What would we find you doing when you are not volunteering for HDYO?

Guest: I am currently going to graduate school at the Kellogg School of Management to obtain my MBA. I go part time so my nights are filled with class and homework. It is definitely not a glamorous lifestyle right now, but I hope it brings new opportunities to my career and new strategic insights to help improve HDYO.

7: If you were to compete in the Olympics, what event would you do and why?

Guest: Ping Pong. I will challenge anyone out there to a match!

8: what is your connection to huntington's disease?

Guest: My mom had HD. She taught my sister (Emily) and I to get involved at a young age and we have done so ever since. I tested negative for HD in 2010 and that just made me more motivated to get involved. My desire to be involved in the HD Community has always been to support my Mom and my other friends who are impacted so getting a negative test result did nothing but motivate me further. I hope to continue my involvement with HDYO, but also with other groups and organizations to make sure we are all working together to offer support and find a cure.


9: What is your favorite childhood memory?

Guest: I used to get up every summer day and ride my bike to the park to play sports. I would bring a basketball, a tennis racket, two pairs of shoes and a radio. Id meet my friends there or just play by myself. We would spend hours having fun and improving our skills.

10: What film/tv show makes you laugh the most?

Guest: If I had to choose a film, it would be Elf. I used to watch that movie all the time with my mom and now I watch it every christmas and it just makes me laugh. The only TV show I watch is Shark Tank. It may not seem like a comedy, but I tend to laugh quite a bit at some of the things that are said.


11: Tell us what you do as a volunteer for HDYO?

Guest: I try to do as much as I possibly can as Chair of the Board. I try to do as much as I can to make sure HDYO is strategically aligned to succeed as an international not for profit. We have two amazing full time employees (Matt and Chandler) at HDYO which makes my duties pretty easy. Currently I am in charge of managing the HDYO International Board which keeps in touch via email and has four calls per year. The goal of the board is to oversee everything we are doing at HDYO and make sure it aligns with our goals. My favorite part about HDYO is reading emails from people that have found HDYO and are grateful for the resource. I am not the one to respond to the emails, but I read every one of them!

12: Do you like music? if so what kind?

Guest: Of course I enjoy music. I don’t really have a preference to the type of music as long as I can sing along. I am a really good singer if the music is loud and you can’t hear my voice.

13: If you could travel anywhere in the world, you have never been there, but you got a reason to travel there. where? and why?

Guest: Tough question. An African safari might beat out anything. I have always wanted to do a hot air balloon ride over the African plains.


14: What's your message to young people impacted by huntington's disease?

Guest: Stay positive! There is a lot of positive things going on in the HD community regarding education, advocacy, awareness and most importantly, research. The one tool that I have found to help support me the most is getting involved. I encourage everyone to find a way to fight back against HD. Get educated, attend fundraisers, raise awareness or join a research study. The research study ENROLL is meant as an easy opportunity to get involved in research. I am a participant and I encourage you to be one to!

Erlend Ravna
News Team Reporter

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