Excerpt of an Article by Susan C. Schena | Dixon Patch
On May 30, 2015, families, cyclists, and food enthusiasts will gather for the 6th Annual rideATAXIA NorCal, a single day, multi-route cycling fundraiser presented by Outback Steakhouse to benefit the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), a non-profit dedicated to research leading to treatments and a cure for Friedreich’s ataxia (FA).
Celebrating its 6th year, rideATAXIA NorCal kicks off at Davis Veterans Memorial Center on May 30, and offers 6, 19, 40, and 60 mile cycling routes on scenic country roads and a delicious post-ride lunch prepared by Outback Steakhouse.
Founded by Sacramento native Kyle Bryant, rideATAXIA provides hope and a way to take action in the face this debilitating disease for many local young adults living with FA.
Kyle Bryant, 33, carefully holds the straps on his bike helmet in each hand as he concentrates to align the buckle before snapping it in place. This simple act requires his full attention because at age 17, Kyle was told by doctors that he would lose his abilities over time, would soon be in a wheelchair, would lose the ability to take care of himself, and would likely die a premature death due to heart failure. Kyle was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), a degenerative neuro-muscular disorder with no treatment or cure.
FA causes a progressive loss of coordination and muscle strength and can also include life-threatening heart conditions, diabetes, and severe scoliosis. Symptoms usually start between the ages of 5 and 18, and most young people diagnosed with FA require mobility aids such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair by their teens or early 20s.
Growing up in Northern California, Kyle excelled at many sports but slowly lost the ability to participate as FA progressed and affected his mobility. Although scared for his future, Kyle was determined to move forward and went on to graduate from the University of California at Davis in 2005 with a degree in civil engineering. It was at UCD where he first met a researcher who was investigating FA—someone who understood the devastating disease and was working on a way to treat it. “It was the first time I was filled with hope,” said Bryant.
At that point, it was unsafe for Kyle to ride a bicycle. Filled with optimism, he decided to put a stop to the loss of the activity he cherished. Kyle took back control, purchased a recumbent trike, and resumed his riding with passion. In 2007, Bryant and his family decided to raise much needed awareness and funds for FA research by cycling 2,500 miles from San Diego to Memphis—and so rideATAXIA was born.
Since then, Kyle has grown rideATAXIA into a marquee fundraising program of FARA, creating a nationwide series of multi-route cycling events presented by Outback Steakhouse to benefit FARA in Dallas, Northern California, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Orlando. In 2014, rideATAXIA welcomed over 2,300 participants and raised over $800,000 to advance FA research, bringing total fundraising to $3 million since its inception.
To read the complete article by Schena, click here.
If you missed the event in Northern California this year, there are many other locations where the event is held, and there are other ways to contribute to this worthy cause.
Thanks to Kyle Bryant and rideATAXIA for raising funds and increasing awareness of Ataxia; Outback Steakhouse for providing a post-ride meal; Barefoot Wine and all the other sponsors; Susan C. Schena for writing the article; Dixon Patch for committing its resources to the article; YouTube for hosting the video; Google for helping me find the article; and all the other people who, directly or indirectly made it possible for me to include the picture, video, and text in this post.