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FARA Ambassador Program

The FARA Ambassadors are a united team of patient volunteers living with FA who are committed to supporting FARA in the search for treatments and a cure.

The Ambassadors are a service team within the FARA organization. Participants in the FARA Ambassador Program are passionate about building and upholding relationships within the FA community. Together we seek to know more about the research and pharmaceutical pipelines being developed through FARA in order to be better prepared to represent the FA community when opportunities arise to educate the medical community and potential donors. When meeting with scientific groups, pharma partners, and the FDA, our purpose is to promote awareness of the patient perspective of living with FA. We believe our dedicated support is key to continued success toward our ultimate goal of treatments and a cure.

FARA Ambassador Program Mission Statement:

The FARA Ambassadors are positive, supportive, peer representatives for the FA community, actively raising awareness and funds for FARA. To learn more about the FARA Ambassador Program or to have a FARA Ambassador speak at your event, please contact:

Tricia Herman-Maul

TriciaMy journey with Friedreich's Ataxia started 20 years ago. It was 1997 when my sister was diagnosed with FA, there was little information available and no hope for a treatment or cure. After much research, I knew I also had symptoms of FA but waited until 2008 (age 28) to get the DNA test done. After waiting 3 months the results were positive. Some of my first symptoms in high school were bad coordination, weak ankles, and foot pain. At age 32 scoliosis appeared and I began relying on handrails on stairways. My late on-set and slow progression have led to using a rollator and holding onto someone's arm to get around at age 36.

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Dillon Head

Dillon HeadHi Everyone, my name is Dillon Head, I'm openly gay and proud. I have been a FARA Ambassador for the past three years, I'm 23 years old and live with my family in Upstate New York; which I have lived my whole life.

I was diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia when I was 17. I was 16 when my family and I started noticing symptoms of something that wasn't right. It took us over a year of seeing multiple doctors to get possible answers. I finally went to an amazing doctor at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. He ordered a genetic blood test which he sent to Baylor University to have them run the test.

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Kyle Bryant

Kyle BryantKyle Bryant is the founder and director of the bicycle ride fundraiser, rideATAXIA for FARA. rideATAXIA currently has 6 locations and has raised over $7 million for FA research since 2007. Despite his diagnosis of FA at the age of 17, Kyle has completed numerous long-distance bike rides including "The World's Toughest Bike Race" - Race Across America in 2010 as part of 4 man Team FARA.

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Erin Pieper

Erin PieperMy name is Erin Pieper. I am a 30-year-old mama to my handsome 6-year-old son, Elijah.

I live in St. Louis, Missouri and obtained a Bachelor's degree in Psychology/Sociology in 2010. I work as an Entrepreneur for a wine company called viaONEHOPE. Amongst setting up wine tasting events, I blog, participate in research trials for FA, recently became an Ambassador for FARA, pursuing hobbies into something more and most importantly, being a mom.

I was diagnosed with FA in 2010. My symptoms were pretty subtle for the years leading up to diagnosis, but really took a fast turn for the worse during my pregnancy. Even though symptoms were hardly noticeable at first, I knew something was 'off'. Just walking to and from my car was exhausting. I couldn't run up and down the stairs anymore. I had to be more cautious with each step.

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Brittany Sommerfield

brittany sommerfieldHello, my name is Brittany Sommerfield and I am a FARA ambassador. I was diagnosed when I was 13 and I am 24 as of November 2018. I am a Canadian and a Winnipeger.

At first, when I was diagnosed I tried to ignore the reality. If anyone asked if I was sick or why I was so clumsy I would tell them there was nothing. It wasn't until after grade 11, 5 years later, until I accepted the illness, I would tell people what was wrong- I wouldn't keep it a secret and I would help to spread awareness I decided

I organized a fundraiser at my high-school, my friends all helped and we raised a whopping $6,000 Canadian. I also held two socials (which are a Manitoba thing but it is pretty much a fundraiser/party). So far I have attended five different ataxia conference; I have also participated in multiple trials in UCLA and Atlanta Georgia (you can read my patient perspective to learn more, click here.

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