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FARA Ambassador Program

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:

The Ambassador Blog

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This blog is a vehicle for the voice of the FARA Ambassador Program and features posts from Program participants and friends from the FA community on a wide range of topics.

The blog features posts about FARA events, articles about living with FA, spotlights on individuals throughout the FA community, weekly interviews to “Meet the Community,” and more. We hope that you will be inspired, uplifted and encouraged through the FARA Ambassador Blog!


Wes Gates

Wes GatesName: Robert W. Gates (Wes)

Age: 31

Where do you call home? Choctaw, OK

Education: degree Bachelor of Art in Multi-Disciplinary Studies from the University of Oklahoma

Tell us about your family: I live with my parents and have never been married.

How long have you known you are living with FA? I was diagnosed at age 13 by Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington DC when we lived there.

Are there any others with FA in your family? No

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Read more: Wes Gates

April FA Hangout 2019

April HangoutThis month's topic is, "The importance of FA friendships." It will be led by RJ and Allie. Come hang out!

When: Join us the April 23rd or the 24th at 8-9:30 PM. Hangouts will be held on the last consecutive Tuesday and Wednesday of the month, (except for holidays and the like) at 8-9:30 pm EST each of the two days.

How: Email to sign up or ask questions. FA Hangouts do fill up. It is first come, first served. So, the earlier you sign up, the more likely you are to get the date and time you want. Lately, all our hangouts have been filling up. If you signed up and can't make it, please let us know so we can give the slot to someone else.

Read more: April FA Hangout 2019

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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Marianne Hakim

MarianneName: Marianne Hakim

Age: 32

Where do you call home? Beirut, Lebanon

Education: B.A in advertising & marketing and Masters in media studies- My thesis which is the backbone of Friedreich Ataxia Lebanese Association (FALA) — an NGO I established — gave me the opportunity to meet and connect with people, who are affected, like me, by FA in my country. The main objectives are to spread awareness about the benefits of the therapies available to medical experts as well, connect people with FA to doctors and therapists and offer them support, orientation, and care, last but not least encourage inclusion in public places, educational institutions, and workplace.

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Beth Hanes

Beth HanesName Beth Hanes

Age 38

Where do you call home? Waterford, OH

Education degree(s): 2003 Bachelor of Arts in Education & 2008 Master's Degree in Education

What is your relationship status? Do you have children? Live with my husband Jason, and 8-year-old daughter, Jillian

What's a typical day for you? My typical day begins with the alarm at 5:15 am. After a two-hour battle, my daughter is on the bus, my dog is in her crate, my husband is out the door, and I have managed to get myself into the van for another day of work! I am a Title 1 Teacher full-time. This is my fifteenth year as a teacher, and I love what I do! I am so blessed to have an employer who has accommodated my needs for almost eight years!!

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