The Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), the Burrows Hill Foundation, Catrike, The Texas Irish Foundation, and UVA Sun Systems have partnered once again to offer adaptive cycling equipment through Ataxian Athlete Initiative (AAI). The AAI is a unique program providing adaptive cycling equipment to people with ataxia who have demonstrated a strong desire to stay healthy and fit despite their progressive disabilities.
"Since 2011, Catrike has supported the AAI at FARA to provide trikes to people living with Ataxia. We are proud to support an initiative that promotes an active lifestyle for people of all abilities, said Mark Egeland, GM, Catrike. www.catrike.com
Ataxia is a debilitating neuro-degenerative disease affecting children and adults. Friedreich's ataxia (FA) is the most common of inherited ataxias, affecting balance and coordination and has symptoms such as vision and hearing loss and life-shortening heart complications.
“The Ataxian Athlete Initiative is one of the highlights of our year. We are inspired and motivated by the recipients’ stories, and we are proud to provide continued support,” offered Scott Carson, Texas Irish Foundation. texasirishcycling.com/texas-irish-foundation
AAI grants are administered through a competitive application process. Applicants research the most appropriate adaptive cycling equipment to suit their abilities and describe how such equipment would help them to reach their fitness goals and improve their quality of life.
A 2020 AAI recipient, Noah Griffith from Alabama, said “My disability may change how I stay active, but it can’t stop me from doing so. Having a trike means still enjoying physical activity. That is something that when I was diagnosed, I didn’t think I’d do again.”
This year, the AAI was sponsored by Catrike, UVA Sun Systems, The Texas Irish Foundation and The Burrows Hill Foundation. The Burrows Hill Foundation generously provided over 60% of the funding for the 2020 AAI.
Sam Hill, from The Burrows Hill Foundation www.burrows-hill.org, added, “The Burrows Hill Foundation is so grateful to be a part of the important work that the AAI is doing. It is very beneficial for Ataxia patients to stay active, and the AAI does a phenomenal job of helping make that possible.”
The AAI has provided equipment for 73 individuals since 2009. In 2020, the AAI funded 11 grants for adaptive cycling equipment, including 10 Catrikes and one handcycle. The recipients are: Carrie Bollinger of Colorado Springs, CO, Christine Bielski of Fort Meyers, FL, David Riley of Windcrest, TX, Jacob Thompson of Minneapolis, MN, Luis Chicol Sipac of Santa Fe, NM, Mary Englund of Portland, Oregon, Noah Griffith of Salem, Alabama, Orrin Forsyth of Garden City, Michigan, Rodney Cook of Bellevue, Ohio, Sean Sommerville of Walnut Creek, California, and Ziyad Halawani of East Norriton, Pennsylvania.
Visit curefa.org/aai for more information and to view more photos of past recipients. The next application cycle begins in Spring 2021.