Tampa, Fl [October 19, 2012]—The brisk November weather in Clermont, FL is an athlete’s dream. Crispy air, clear sunny skies and comfortable 60 degree temps are ideal conditions for all your favorite outdoor activities. Lucky for local cyclists, Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) Ride Ataxia circuit is stopping through to cruise for the cure Sunday, November 4.
A rare, yet extremely devastating degenerative neuro-muscular disorder, Friedreich’s ataxia affects one in every 50,000 people in the United States. Although the mental capabilities of people with Friedreich's ataxia remain completely intact, the progressive loss of coordination and muscle strength leads to motor incapacitation and results in the full-time use of a wheelchair. Sadly, most young people diagnosed with FA require mobility aids such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair by their teens or early 20s and many suffer from life-shortening heart disease caused by FA.
As of today, there is no treatment or cure for FA. However, extensive research and promising solutions are in the works. In order to fund this effort, FARA has founded a series of cycling events around the country to raise money and awareness called Ride Ataxia.
Initiated by Kyle Bryant in 2010, Ride Ataxia has raised invaluable awareness for FA and funded over $1.4 million in FA research grants in just 5 short years. Bryant’s inspiration spurs from his diagnosis at age 17 and the discovery that he could travel long distances under his own power on a recumbent tricycle. In 2007, Bryant and his family did a 2,500 mile bike ride from San Diego to Memphis to raise awareness and funds for FA research.
Tara Ryan and mother Jennifer Shaw can’t wait to saddle up for this year’s ride in Clermont, Florida either. After being diagnosed with FA, Tara and Jennifer joined the FARA community in the fight against FA and now consider their fellow community members to be family.
“It’s the greatest group of people you never hope to meet, considering the circumstances,” states Jennifer.
The two have since taken leadership roles in the planning and execution of Ride Ataxia Orlando.
Tara explains, “I’ll hand out flyers or make some noise about it through our social media outlets. Constantly networking and promoting the ride is exhausting but it’s worth it. Last year we had an awesome turnout but I hope we have twice as many people this time.”
This year’s ride includes three different courses (16, 25, 50 miles) to accommodate any level rider. Each scenic route is brimming with rolling hills and sprinkled with waterfront views, all ending at a tasty lunch party provided by Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill.
Jennifer and Tara agree, “We enjoy riding in the event but love interacting with the participants and spectators also. I think this year we will ride one of the shorter courses so we’ll have some time to meet all the amazing people that come out for Ride Ataxia too.”
To sign up for Ride Ataxia Orlando in Clermont, visit rideataxia.org/orlando!
Fortunately for those of us who aren’t up for the bike ride, there are lots of other ways to participate in Ride Ataxia. For information on volunteer/sponsorship opportunities, spectator resources or to make a donation, visit rideataxia.org/orlando.
About Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA)
FARA advances research for Friedreich's Ataxia (FA) and is dedicated to curing FA.
Founded in 1998 by FA parents and patients, FARA is a nonprofit, 501c3, whose mission is directing and funding research through a remarkable level of collaboration among the patient, medical and scientific communities. FA is an aggressive neurodegenerative disease that debilitates people of all ages, robbing them of their ability to walk, see, speak and hear and cutting short their life expectancies. Currently, there is no cure or treatment for FA. However, FARA funded research is bringing promising treatments forward fueling confidence in the ability to slow, stop and reverse this disease for patients living with FA today.