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The Virginia Beach boardwalk was filled on Saturday April 18, 2015 as hundreds of people seen wearing leis, grass skirts, and even coconut bras joined together to participate in the 3rd annual FARA FEST Lei Day 5k & Flip Flop 1 mile to benefit the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA). The event has more than quadrupled in size during its three short years and has raised nearly $100,000 for FARA. There were just over 500 runners for the 5K and nearly 200 for the 1 mile. There were another hundred or more in attendance as well between volunteers and spectators. 

The event captivated those walking on the boardwalk as people passed by inquiring about the cause and some even made donations in support of the fundraising efforts. It turned out to be a gorgeous day with the hot sun shining, light breezes, and the cool sounds of the Tiki Bar Band playing tribute to Jimmy Buffett during the post-race Tailgate Beach Party. The Tailgate Beach Party was a complete success! Finishers received their medals, leis, and food while hanging out and visiting vendor booths from the Flip Flop Shop and Allstate-The McMahan Group. The children were busy with face painting, bounce house, and snow cones. Included in the event festivities were several raffle drawings, a Parrot Head best dressed competition, and an award ceremony for the runners. The overall top 3 female and male finishers as well as top 3 female and male age division finishers were announced and received awards.

Our presenting sponsor, Capital Group, received an appreciation plaque for their continued support, and our top sponsors, Huffman & Huffman, S.B.Ballard, Allstate-The McMahan Group, Meridian Group and Jim & Robin McMahan were given recognition as well for their generous contributions. We were also able to recognize MB contractors, Bush & Taylor, Tiki Bar Band, Doug Dunn & the Steel River Band, Sentara, Sunbelt Rentals, and all the large group teams on the back of our event t-shirts for their sponsorship.

In addition to the event festivities and recognizing our proud sponsors and finishers, it was an honor to have Jamie Young from FARA in attendance to speak about the breakthroughs and progress being made with advancement in treatments and clinical trials leaving us optimistic that a cure will be in the near future. The Lei Day 5k & Flip Flop 1 mile may be just one day in parrot-dise, but the memories and support will last for a lifetime. Together we will cure FA! Please visit  for more event details about how you can volunteer, participate, sponsor or donate for FARA FEST 2016.






The third annual FARAFEST Lei Day 5k was April 18th in Virginia Beach, VA.   The event is a Jimmy Buffet themed 5k and 1 mile fun run held at the oceanfront.  The first year we had hoped we would be able to get 100 runner out to support our cause. This year our event sold out with over 700 participants between the 5k and the 1 mile fun run! We had snocones, a band, raffles, corn hole and a fabulous food truck.  FARA has a new mascot, too. Our parrot was on hand for photos and was a real crowd pleaser. Rumor has it he wants to meet the chickens that danced at the Philly Ride if they’re interested. Could be really fowl…

There will be a FARAFEST next year, and we are looking into possibly moving to another area of the beach and starting the runners in waves because we have grown so much. The community loves this event and experienced racers keep commenting about what a great time they have, which brings them back and keeps the event growing. People traveled from different parts of Virginia, from Baltimore and we even had a team from Canada join us to #curefa.

This year the event raised $34,000 and counting for FARA. That figure brings the three year total to over $85,000. I am so proud to be a part of this event and so touched by the support of this community. I am very fortunate to have had the amazing support of Team Alyx with over 100 runners out there combining for a total of over $7,300. It’s humbling to think of how many people care.

A few of us fighting FA were fortunate enough to award medals to the finishers which is super cool because they are out there busting it to help us find a cure. It was truly awesome to see Luke and Robert cross the finish line of the 1 mile. They persevered and represented all of us. But I have to admit my favorite part of the event was presenting a special corporate award and giving a speech. It made me realize how much I’ve grown this year and how much I have to give to this FAmily. The opportunity I was given to tell everyone how much I appreciate that they came out to show their support meant so much to me and being able to express my gratitude to Keith and Tammy Leonard for putting this event together every year is something I will never forget. I heard I made a few people cry; next year I hope to make an even better speech because there is so much to say to so many wonderful people working together to end FA.





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