Ataxian Athlete Initiative announces 2014 grant recipients

Mary Fuchs, 2014 AAI grant recipient.

Mary Fuchs, 2014 AAI grant recipient.

The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), in partnership with the FA Project, Catrike, The Melting Pot, and the Texas Irish Foundation is pleased to announce the 2014 Ataxian Athlete Initiative (AAI) grant recipients. The AAI provides adaptive cycling equipment to people with Ataxia who have demonstrated the desire to stay active and healthy despite their disabilities. Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA) is a rare, progressive and life-shortening neuromuscular disease for which there is currently no treatment or cure.

The cost of a piece of adaptive cycling equipment (recumbent trike or handcycle) is $2,000-$5,000 which makes the sport cost prohibitive for many people living with Ataxia. The AAI provides funding to create an opportunity for recreation and physical fitness and the opportunity to improve confidence and self esteem.

The AAI is managed by Ride Ataxia, a FARA program. AAI grants are administered through a competitive application process. Applicants were invited to submit a short summary of their experience with Ataxia and their efforts to stay active. Individuals then selected the most appropriate adaptive cycling equipment to suit their abilities and described how such equipment would help them to reach their fitness goals and improve their quality of life.

“Ataxia is not who I am; it is what I have. I love adventure, and getting this Catrike gives me that Born to be Free to Ride, the opportunity to feel normal. I may not have control of this Ataxia disorder, but I can choose to live life to the fullest, to laugh, be positive, stay active and involved. To help others in our AZ. Ataxia Support Group and help with Ataxia Awareness to find a cure. See you on the open road or trail – catch me if you can.” Mary Fuchs, 2014, AAI grant recipient.

With the 2014 grant awards, the AAI has provided equipment for 27 individuals since its 2009 inception. Additionally, Ride Ataxia teamed up with the Texas Irish Foundation specifically to provide equipment in the North Texas area.

The 2014 AAI recipients are Mary Fuchs of Sun Lakes, AZ, Liam Dougherty of Philadelphia, PA, Carl Estabrook of Rockport, MA, Abby Yingling and Chase Yingling of Lemoyne, PA, and Amanda Hernandez of Graham, TX.

About FARA

The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization dedicated to accelerating research leading to treatments and a cure for Friedreich’s Ataxia. For more information visit

About Ride Ataxia

In 2007, Kyle Bryant, a young man living with Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA) set off on a cross-country journey on his recumbent trike to empower himself and to raise money for FA research.

Since then Ride Ataxia has empowered thousands and has become FARA’s Marquee athletic fundraising event. In 2013, the Ride Ataxia program hosted six rides welcoming over 2,000 riders of all abilities who helped raise $500,000 for FA research. Ride Ataxia locations include Davis, CA, Dallas, TX, Philadelphia, PA, Seattle, WA, Chicago, IL and Orlando, FL. For more information visit

Arizona Ataxia Support Group, Phoenix

For more information contact Angela Li at [email protected]; 847-505-4325 or Mary Fuchs at [email protected]; 480-212-6452.